Pros: If you’re a punk-lover, Craig will revive all your emotions.
Cons: If you aren’t a punk-lover, you might struggle to keep up with the first ten minutes of Craig’s speech.
Craig (Dario Coates) enters his bedroom screaming and puts the Sex Pistols’ music on full blast. Clothes are scattered everywhere on the floor, the bed is unmade and the walls are covered in pictures of Sid Vicious, the band’s doomed frontman. He’s eager to talk about Sid. Sid is his hero and Craig aggressively defends him from the accusations of murdering his girlfriend Nancy, insisting on the immortality of his legacy and the social resonance of punk music.
Craig’s girlfriend has moved towns to attend univertity and he’s heading there to visit her; it will take four hours on the bus. He questions himself on the necessity of taking some shirts, since he doesn’t think students wear t-shirts. That’s when his monologue takes a sudden diversion. He really doesn’t like students: all so desperate to be different but all wearing the same fancy-branded shirts.
I must confess that I’m not exactly a punk rock expert and, for the first few minutes, I worry that I won’t be able to engage with the play. But all my concerns dissipate as soon as the subject changes. Coates is an excellent interpreter of Leon Fleming’s vibrant and highly visual piece. He drives all his energy into the words and it is clear to me how deeply he believes in the character. In fifty minutes, I witness a carefully chosen range of strong emotions that take shape through Coates’ speech and body language. He’s full of rage, he’s annoyed with life and he hates the world.
At first I feel intimidated by his threatening debut and exuberant interaction with the public but, thankfully, I am tucked in the middle of the third row and can watch unharmed. The language is coarse, which is more or less what I expected from a 10pm performance, and there is a lot of shouting. But it’s not long before the real shape of Sid emerges. Craig is not only the inveterate worshipper of a man who’s been dead for nearly forty years. He’s a young man struggling to come to terms with his own identity, striving to find out where he comes from and to work out which direction he should take as a grown-up. His grudge against students is strikingly well-depicted and the stereotypical account of an evening at the bar with his girlfriend and her new mates is pure comedy. The sort of comedy that leaves behind a lingering aftertaste of truth: funny but hard to digest.
At times, Sid is quite extreme and it is far too eventful. Nonetheless, it profiles with poignant intensity the generational rift caused by lack of ideals and aspirations. In its final scenes, it could even be intended as a subtle tribute to maternal love and overall is a multilayered show that I wouldn’t hesitate to watch again and again.
Author: Leon Fleming
Director: Scott Le Crass
Producer: Andrea Leoncini
Box Office: 020 7836 8463
Booking Link: https://artstheatrewestend.co.uk/whats-on/sid/
Booking Until: 8 October 2016