FRINGEWORLD 2019: The Violent Years | 4 Stars

Review | Laura Money

Who would have thought that a 1950s exploitation movie (penned by Ed Wood) could be the source of a fresh 2018 musical that is part rockabilly and part indie rock? Director/writer Rachel Kerry has taken the scandalous movie and reclaimed the violence for the girls.

The Violent Years (1956) sees four teenage girls disillusioned with their affluent American lifestyles who decide to go on a rampage – in their own words – to fuck things up! It’s a rebellion in red – the hot blooded girls course with energy and pent-up rage as they explode into their microphones – it’s The Sex Pistols twenty years early wearing dresses. Kerry’s direction references not only the original film, but the crime/mobster genre itself with fast-paced, adrenaline-filled car chases, violence and robbery.

The music is part Patsy Cline, with the edge of Wanda Jackson and part indie/punk and it works. Sally Alrich-Smythe as Paula is the frontman – screaming into the microphone backed up by Elsa Cherlin, Lucy Green and Billie Miles bristling with energy, loudly delivering their singular brand of anarchy in a corruption of 1950s harmony groups – no longer sugar and spice.

The Violent Years (1956) is funny, clever, and angry. It gives women the platform to shout from the rooftops and challenge the gender and class norms epitomised in 1950s American culture. Adopting the roles of Mother and Father, and even Mob Boss – the young performers place their tongues firmly in their cheeks while acting as adults attempting to guide the youth. It takes the sensibilities of the 50s and dashes them on the altar of punk rock in the 21st century. Go and get riled up! It’s a great way to challenge society – these girls aren’t smiling for you – check out their resting violent face and don one yourself.

WHEN: 18 – 26 January 2019 | 9:30pm

WHERE: The Main Space | The Blue Room Theatre | FRINGE CENTRAL

INFO: Tickets $18 – $21 | Duration 60m | Age Suitability: M | Frequent coarse language | Themes of violence | COMEDY



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