Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 1°C

min temp: -2°C

Search

New Wolsey asks whether punks can revisit their past

PUBLISHED: 10:03 17 October 2017 | UPDATED: 10:03 17 October 2017

Oxy and the Morons, by Paul Sirett, with music from Mike Peters and Steve Allen Jones, a new punk musical, being premiered at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich. Photo: Mike Kwasniak

Oxy and the Morons, by Paul Sirett, with music from Mike Peters and Steve Allen Jones, a new punk musical, being premiered at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich. Photo: Mike Kwasniak

www.mikekwasniak.co.uk

The New Wolsey Theatre has a reputation for putting lots of great music in their shows. But, as Arts editor Andrew Clarke, discovers with Oxy and the Morons they are looking at whether the punk spirit can survive into middle age.

Oxy and the Morons, by Paul Sirett, with music from Mike Peters and Steve Allen Jones, a new punk musical, being premiered at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich. Photo: Mike Kwasniak Oxy and the Morons, by Paul Sirett, with music from Mike Peters and Steve Allen Jones, a new punk musical, being premiered at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich. Photo: Mike Kwasniak

There’s musicals and there’s plays with music. It may appear to be merely a question of semantics but when you see the finished work on stage you can clearly see the difference.

For writer Paul Sirett, the man who has crafted shows like Reasons To Be Cheerful, which featured the music of Ian Dury of The Blockheads, Mods and Rox and earlier this year the latest version of The Who’s Tommy, he sees a clear distinction.

Musicals create a world of their own whereas the plays he writes harnesses music to provide a social and historical context to the story he’s trying to tell.

Oxy and the Morons, by Paul Sirett, with music from Mike Peters and Steve Allen Jones, a new punk musical, being premiered at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich. Photo: Mike Kwasniak Oxy and the Morons, by Paul Sirett, with music from Mike Peters and Steve Allen Jones, a new punk musical, being premiered at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich. Photo: Mike Kwasniak

He says that music helps define an era. It instantly puts an audience in the right frame of mind and in the right time and place. “It’s almost as good as time travel.”

Paul Sirett is a man much in demand. No sooner had Tommy headed out on the road, than it was time to put the finishing touches to his new play Oxy and the Morons, written in conjunction with Steve Allen Jones and Mike Peters of The Alarm.

So what is it about music that creates such stirring nights at the theatre. “It’s a wonderful touchstone that takes us back to a particular place in time or allows us to explore a moment in our social history. Music taps into our social subconscious.

Oxy and the Morons, by Paul Sirett, with music from Mike Peters and Steve Allen Jones, a new punk musical, being premiered at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich. Photo: Mike Kwasniak Oxy and the Morons, by Paul Sirett, with music from Mike Peters and Steve Allen Jones, a new punk musical, being premiered at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich. Photo: Mike Kwasniak

“We found with Reasons To Be Cheerful, which has been so successful, that it isn’t just rose-tinted nostalgia, it takes you back to a time that is pretty raw. Oxy looks to tap into the whole idea of nostalgia and how as you get older you want to revisit your youth or your formative experiences.

“Mike Peters and Steve Allen Jones came to Pete Rowe (the New Wolsey artistic director) and said that they wanted to do a punk musical and he put them into contact with me.

“I was very keen that the play reflect Mike’s own story.

Oxy and the Morons, by Paul Sirett, with music from Mike Peters and Steve Allen Jones, a new punk musical, being premiered at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich. Photo: Mike Kwasniak Oxy and the Morons, by Paul Sirett, with music from Mike Peters and Steve Allen Jones, a new punk musical, being premiered at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich. Photo: Mike Kwasniak

“Mike has been battling cancer for the last 20 years and he’s such an inspirational figure. He’s never stopped touring, he’s never stopped recording, he’s been working in America for most of this year then he’s back for a UK and European tour. He’s one of those people who says: ‘You’re not going to get me.’

“So we fashioned a play from his story with elements from Wilko Johnson from Dr Feelgood who had a similar experience. He said that when he got his cancer diagnosis it completely freed him.

“So we ended up coming up with this story about a guy who was in a band in the late ‘70s, a band that never quite made it, and after he gets a cancer diagnosis he decides he wants to put his band back to together again – and all the problems that entails.”

He says that they have this idea that they want to party again like it was still 1978 but have to first face the facts that the band, Oxy and the Morons, exploded in a riot of rivalry, jealousy and bitter betrayal.

Andy, the lead singer, is a man on a mission and if getting the band back together involves twisting arms then so be it. He quickly realises that it’s really about putting his family and friendships back together again. But, a thought nags away at the back of his mind: ‘Can that punk spirit of DIY defiance be rekindled more than 30 years later? Also, can you still pogo when your knees go?

Paul says that the play involves two casts: “We have a group of younger actors playing the band in their younger days and another group of actors playing them in their older incarnation.

“Also, the for us, we had the fun of inventing an original punk band and writing all their songs for them. So they are all original songs, created for the show, all except one and that’s Tom Jones’ It’s Not Unusual. It was the band’s original encore closer and it was the source of a lot of the original friction between the band members.

“One of the central questions surrounding the reunion is whether they will play their punk version of It’s Not Unusual once more?”

He said that one of the great joys of creating the show was writing the songs. “Writing them in the style of the time was hugely enjoyable. There won’t be songs that people recognise but there will be flavours and motifs that people will respond to.”

The cast includes Rob Jarvis (BBC’s Hustle and Call the Midwife) along with New Wolsey regulars Adam Langstaff and Sean Kingsley.

Oxy and the Morons is at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, until October 21.

Comments have been disabled on this article.

A bid by Mid Suffolk District Council to buy the vacant former NatWest bank next to the John Peel Centre has been accepted, the council has confirmed.

Fresh from being ravaged by hunger and sand-flies on Channel 4’s Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls, Shazia Mirza returns with a show about lies and truth - or are they the same thing these days?

Movies that tell a good story and have engaging characters provide that all-important re-watch value necessary for a great film. Arts editor Andrew Clarke presents a series of idiosyncratic suggestions for movies which may entertain if you are in the mood for something different

Kevin Kennedy will forever be best known as Coronation Street’s loveable loser Curly Watts, but he is also a stage star. His latest role is an all-star musical version of Kay Mellor’s Fat Friends, which allows him to rekindle his love of this region.

The 80s are officially back, with Fame The Musical coming to the Ipswich Regent later this year.

Talented students at Suffolk New College organised and filmed their own Jools Holland-style show showcasing some of Suffolk’s brightest talent.

Film award shows seem to be losing favour with audiences. Arts editor Andrew Clarke wonders whether its because the audience for movies is changing and the Oscars and BAFTAs are reacting by rewarding the wrong films.

The Bury Festival is one of the cornerstones of Suffolk’s cultural calendar. Arts editor Andrew Clarke speaks to festival director Nick Wells and takes a look at the treats in store during this year’s 10 day extravaganza.

The cast of new musical An Officer and a Gentleman has been revealed, featuring top West End talent.

Taj Mahal chef Sayid swaps the kitchen for the stage in The Chef Show, part of PULSE presents.

Most read

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter
MyDate24 MyPhotos24