Front is a new theatre production whose name could mean lots of different things. The band could all be a “front” for something else, a group often has a “front” man and being an artist means you have to perform on-stage “front” and centre. The play is a rocking one that takes a walk on the wild side through garages, smoke-filled band rooms and sticky carpets to shine a light on a group of musician’s meteoric rise and spectacular implosion. It’s a story that feels very raw, real and relevant.
The play is written and directed by Michael Abercromby and some of the source material is inspired by his life as a fledgling musician before he turned his sights to the theatre. The band that are profiled here are fictional and are known as Rough Cut Punt, try saying that ten times. The storyline is not too dissimilar to some parts of the film, Almost Famous in that you have a group touring together, getting a deal, grappling with success and various members clash in a battle of wills, egos and self-importance.
The start of Front sees the audience walking into the band’s rehearsal room. They will be playing their own original ditties or catchy “Syd-core” as they’ve named it. There are tracks like “Jackin it Off to Your Friends on Facebook” and “F**k Me I Look Hot Today.” It feels like you are a fly-on-the-wall in a very intimate space. This is even more apparent when each band member delivers his own monologue and breaks down the fourth wall. This technique is interesting because you get to learn more about the characters and their motivations. The flashbacks are also really good but they could have been signposted a little better.
For the songwriter (Lincoln Vickery) the band is everything. He is the Billy Corgan of the group whose desire for perfection causes some major riffs and we’re not talking about guitar chords. Then there’s the bassist (Jack Angwin) who is desperately seeking the limelight while the lead guitarist (Charlie Falkner) is happy to eschew some of this but he seeks out his own trappings like booze and drugs. He also acts like he’s musically superior to the others. The drummer (Andreas Lohmeyer) is your Ringo character in that he’s a puppy dog, an amiable fella and he’s happily distracted by bashing his sticks.
Along the way the group deal with playing their first show, getting signed, played on the radio and winning an award. But you get the sense that it’s all being held together by a thin string. It all spectacularly implodes, just as many other bands have done before. In spite of this, Front manages to pack some light comedy into the proceedings, so it’s not a complete downer.
Front is a fun and insightful look at a young band and how they manage their own internal politics and navigate their way past ruthless industry types (who are well-played by Elle Harris and Mary Soudi and the latter juggles multiple roles.) The play is a vibrant one that packs a lot of punch into its 80 minutes. Front is an energetic satire about modern music and is proof that a lot more can go on behind closed doors, even when they belong to a garage.
Originally published on 3 July 2017 at the following website: http://arts.theaureview.com/reviews/theatre-review-front-proves-that-a-lot-can-go-on-behind-closed-garage-doors-performances-in-sydney-through-15th-july/
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