Garage Band

Andy Barrett’s feel-good comedy brings together four forty-somethings looking to put a bit of energy back into their increasingly middle-aged lifestyles by reliving the music of their youth and forming their own punk tribute band. Judge’s daughter Penny finds herself more Susie Cellulite than Susie Sioux these days but settles on being Beki Bondage alongside her middle-class bandmates – Alan, a computer obsessed techno-geek; Gavin, stuck in a job he hates and sociology lecturer Danny, worried that professional recognition has passed him by.

From a fumbling start they find the band gels and they build up a cult following on the web. After an apprenticeship at 50th birthday parties, village hops and charity fund-raisers they set off on a UK tour. But the prospect of achieving real international recognition through a gig in Germany tests the loyalty of one band member and threatens to bring about a break-up in the best rock and roll tradition.

Garage Band recaptures all the energy of the punk era with the talented cast thrashing their way through punk classics from acts such as The Damned, The Clash, Sham 69 and The Buzzcocks. So good was their musical performance that you get the feeling most of the audience would be just as happy to have them just play their way through the second act but that would have lost us Andy’s witty, touching and well-crafted dialogue.

The only slightly incongruous note is set by Mark Jardine’s Danny whose Mummerset accent and diffident style is at odds with his vibrant and out-of-character confidence as the band’s front-man’.  However, the exuberance of Giles Croft’s production, not to mention Helen Fownes-Davies’s excellent and effective set, makes this a must-see for anyone wanting to put some teenage kicks back into their life.

– Nick Brunger