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Prehistoric review at Summerhall, Edinburgh – ‘gutsy exploration of teenage rebellion’

Prehistoric at Summerhall, Edinburgh. Photo: Yunis Tmeizeh
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Visceral, passionate and thrashing about in any key it can find a snarl, Marcel Dorney’s pseudo-history of Brisbane punk in the late 1970s is an eye-opening, ear-popping piece of political theatre.

Four marginalised youngsters, tired of rock and conformity in Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s increasingly right-wing police state, set about forming a punk band. Which, in Queensland in 1979, didn’t mean mild disapproval from the parents, or a sweary interview with Bill Grundy. It meant proper rebellion, of the kind that could get you beaten up – or worse – by a police force that called the shots.

The politics and history – from that prehistoric era before the internet – is presented with a strong eye for veracity. The cast, Grace Cummings as university dropout Rachel, Zacher Pidd as drug-dealing radge Pete, Sahil Saluja as gay dropout Nick and Brigid Gallacher as the innocent, tech-minded Deb, create characters who are strong enough to be bent, bowed and ultimately broken by the experience.

With thrashing music cranked up to eleven, regular breaking of the fourth wall to provide political commentary and reference, this is an inspirational production. It shouts out its history loud and clear, demanding that we understand it else we become destined to repeat it.

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Gutsy, in-yer-face exploration of what happens when teenage rebellion turns serious