Traditionally, the middle child has been a pitied figure, in danger of living in the older sibling’s shadow and wanting the same the comfort blanket gifted to the youngest. It has been said that, in the eyes of the middle child, the oldest sibling will reap all the privileges and the youngest will be able to get away with everything. The middle child must then learn how to strike out on their own and negotiate to get what they desire.
Middle Child could then be considered quite a daring name for a theatre company.
Born in Hull, the 2017 UK City of Culture, Middle Child consists of 10 members with a core team of four running the company on a day-to-day basis. They are a company that claim to make noise. And, with Weekend Rockstars, they’d be right.
A production that is comprised of poetry, drama and, above all, music, Weekend Rockstars is quite the offer. Middle Child have created a piece that would fit naturally within any pub venue across the UK and would be likely to have punters eagerly engaging. In this instance at Battersea Arts Centre, the audience is directed to seats that face the band head on. It’s a shame that we weren’t expected to stand as it was too easy to distinguish the difference between theatre and a gig. The set-up allows theatre goers to remain as such, but in a different setting, or with the audience standing, this very notion could be challenged.
The stage is populated with a band fronted by Marc Graham as Terry, he has fantastic swagger that seems to be borrowed straight from Mike Skinner. Despite his nonchalant energy, he commits entirely to the dramatic truth of each lyric, painting an honest portrait of Terry’s life. Graham is completely believable as a lead singer. He slurs melancholy lyrics that document a particularly grim week; losing his job, his girlfriend and his dealer. Outside of the immediate crisis he finds himself in, Terry seems to have lost all agency of his own life, drifting from moment to moment without ever wanting to take charge. This lack of drive doesn’t appear to bother him until all elements in his life are brought into turmoil. It’s a bleak, but endearing portrait of a man in his twenties, made lovable by Graham’s charm.
Weekend Rockstars sizzles with youthful energy, assisted by the frenetic music that underlines the whole show. The heart of the piece comes from Luke Barnes’s writing which presents a man in his twenties as a complicated figure. Weekend Rockstars is a vibrant, fun, touching production that is gold dust for engaging young audiences in theatre. Not taking itself too seriously but committing to an honest, poetic portrayal of life in middle England. Middle Child are positioned to make a much needed mark on theatre which promises to loosens up the industry.
Weekend Rockstars is currently touring the UK with upcoming performances at the Harlow Playhouse and The Hat Factory, Luton. For tickets and further information: the Middle Child Theatre website.