Pop Music, Birmingham Rep (Touring) – Review

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L-R: Ciaran Alexander Stewart, Katherine Kotz and Rakesh Boury

Imagine a world without ‘popular music’. It’s the soundtrack to our lives, reflects our various moods and emotions, and subliminally triggers memories. In terms of celebrating music past and present, there are usually three sorts of events where this takes place: karaoke, Christmas parties… and weddings. Written by Anna Jordan and directed by James Grieve, Pop Music is an ode to the Sunday Top 40 and the tunes of the 1990s.

At the wedding reception of Jade and Miles, Danny is spinning the ‘wheels of steel’ (actually just pressing buttons…) while three people in their mid-30s dance nearby. Over time they end up talking with each other and realise they went to the same school 20 years ago.

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As the music plays, Kayla (Katherine Kotz) recalls her school days – in many ways the best days of her life. The music playing also takes ‘G’ (Rakesh Boury) back to when he was a teenager, but for him music was a source of solace during his unhappy existence.

As details of their lives organically surface, we find out that in terms of their respective ‘popularity’ at school, that they were at ‘opposite ends of the spectrum’. In fact, Kayla at the time encouraged the name-calling that ‘G’ received, compounding his alienation. But time has a way of balancing out the rough with the smooth, and ‘G’ and Kayla find themselves in very different positions as adults…

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Beyond their own personal differences, the play explores the differences between men and women regarding tastes in music and how it’s ‘consumed’. In the case of ‘G’, he is a ‘collector’ at heart – owning vinyl, CDs, extenal hard drives full of MP3s. Kayla, however, doesn’t own any music – preferring instead to listen to the radio. In her own way, Kayla’s ‘attitude’ to music is a precursor to the current trend to not ‘own’ music, but to listen to digital music via streaming services.

As well as Kayla and ‘G’, the third ‘guest’ onstage is Ciaran Alexander Stewart. Providing sign language for the hard of hearing, he very much interacts with the other characters and not placed as a separate element within the show.

As a paean to pop music, Jordan’s play reminds us how ‘tunes’ can assauge life’s worries and concerns, and resurrect dormant emotions from yesteryear. Kotz and Boury have great chemistry together, and clearly enjoying the show as much as the audience. While perhaps not as ‘serious’ as other plays or a ‘musical’ in the truest sense of the word, Pop Music itself reflects the appreciation of music as the bedrock of popular culture.

© Michael Davis 2018

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Pop Music
runs at Birmingham Rep until 22nd September.



Other UK tour dates:

30th October 2018
Unity Theatre, Liverpool
0151 709 4988

31st October 2018
Key Theatre, Peterborough
01733 207239

1st November 2018
South Hill Park, Bracknell
01344 484123

2nd November 2018
The Old Market, Brighton
01273 201801

3rd November 2018
Trestle Arts Base, St Albans
01727 850950

6th November 2018
The Garage, Norwich
01603 598646

7th November 2018
CAST, Doncaster
01302 303959

8th November 2018
The Spring Arts & Heritage Centre, Havant
023 9247 2700

9th November 2018
The Edge Theatre & Arts Centre, Manchester
0161 282 9776

10th November 2018
Derby Theatre, Derby
01332 59 39 39

13th November 2018
Selby Town Hall, Selby
01757 708449

14th November 2018
The Continental, Preston
01772 499425

15th November 2018
Arts Centre Washington, Washington
0191 561 3455

16th November 2018
Lincoln Performing Arts Centre in association with Home, Lincoln
01522 837600

17th November 2018
East Riding Theatre, Beverly
01482 874050

22nd – 23rd November 2018
Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
01227 787787

24th November 2018
Phoenix Theatre and Arts Centre, Bordon
01420 472664

27th November 2018
Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis
01297 442394

28th November 2018
Electric Theatre, Guildford
01483 501200

29th November 2018
Square Chapel Arts Centre, Halifax
01422 349422

30th November 2018
Mill Arts Centre, Banbury
01295 279002

1st December 2018
Studio 3 Arts, Barking
020 8594 7136

4th December 2018
Norden Farm, Maidenhead
01628 788997

5th December 2018
Artrix, Bromsgrove
01527 577330

7th December 2018
The Maltings Theatre, Berwick Upon Tweed
01289 330999

8th December 2018
Rosehill Theatre, Whitehaven
01946 692422

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