Theatre review: Goth Weekend, McCarthy Studio, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

A new play by Ali Taylor called Goth Weekend is the last offering in the summer season at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough.

Wednesday, 4th October 2017, 5:11 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 8:47 am
Gurjeet Singh, Jessica Johnson, Amy Trigg and Sean McKenzie star in Goth Weekend.

It neatly bookends what has been a fantastic programme of plays – classics, revivals and premieres.

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice was set in Scarborough and Goth Weekend is set in the town and Whitby.

It is not only the setting which is mirrored – Little Voice has themes of family, identity and grief and so does Goth Weekend.

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Anna is a 15-year-old struggling to come to terms with the death of her mother two years before the play starts.

Her dad Kenneth is starting to tentatively date again – though Anna is the one setting up the liaisons with friends of her mum.

Into their lives bursts Goth rock chick Belinda and her son Bram (as in Stoker). They live, breath and dress the Goth way.

Before you can say Dracula, Kenneth is sporting white make-up and black leather – and Anna is in a permanent little strop of horrors at what she sees as her dad’s betrayal.Little Voice and Goth Weekend differ, though, in tone.

Goth Weekend veers between soap opera and sitcom – high drama and low farce.

Audiences do not know whether to laugh, cry or do both at once – and while they are deciding they have probably missed a few laughs.

The one-liners come thicker than Belinda’s mascara. No spoilers though – just listen carefully and enjoy the sharp but affectionate observations of life in a seaside town – and jokes about Toyah Wilcox.

There are tears, tantrums and showdowns in this tale of love, sex, husbands and wives, sons and daughters as emotions and desires buried deep for many years suddenly erupt – but the tone is more in the splendid pathos-comedy vein of Coronation Street than the bitter and ever more bitter streak of EastEnders.

There is a cast of four delivering this cauldron of bitter-sweet brew.

Jessica Johnson – new to the rep season – plays Belinda, the Goth rocker who plays mean guitar and sings gravelly vocals.

She is magnificent in all her Geordie feisty, fun glory. But as much as you laugh with her when things are going well – you feel her pain when things come crashing down.

Also new to the theatre is Amy Trigg – who plays teenage stroppiness perfectly – and also sparks tears when she lets her guard down revealing her loneliness, fears and grief.

Sean McKenzie played Ray Say in Little Voice – he could not be more different as the sensitive and repressed Kenneth whose life is transformed when he meets Belinda. He plays the laughs brilliantly but also brings it right down in the more sombre moments.

Gurjeet Singh, who was Billy in Little Voice – is unrecognisable in the Goth make-up. Again he plays a sensitive soul – but one who is more at odds and angrier with the world than the serene Billy.

Directed by Paul Robinson, the play has pace and pathos and the right choice of music. He cranks it right up in the first half – almost to fever pitch as the curtain comes down as the four head to Whitby for Belinda’s headline gig.

But just when you think you know what is going to happen, the rug is pulled from under you.

Theatre review: Goth Weekend, McCarthy Studio, Stephen Joseph Theatre, ScarboroughRead more at: ending is ... unexpected.

Funny, poignant, tender, heart-breaking, grief-stricken and life-affirming, Goth Weekend has it all.

It runs in the McCarthy studio until Saturday October 7.