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Reviews/Fringe World Festival/Theatre

A gleeful sump

22 January 2019

Fringe World review: Spooky Rainbows, The Violent Years (1956) ·
The Blue Room Theatre as part of Summer Nights, 20 January ·
Review by David Zampatti ·

A late night spot on a blistering Sunday night at Fringe World makes for a tough room to fill – even if the show is part of the Blue Room’s crowd-pulling Summer Nights programme.

Not that the cast of Rachel Kerry’s The Violent Years (1956) ain’t up for it; when you’re playing three teenage schoolgirl hoodlums in a stage musical version of Ed Wood’s truly awful exploitation flick of the same title and year you’ve gotta be.

The movie is a gleeful sump, swirling adolescent boredom, crime, sex and anarchy into a nasty brew designed to offend every complacent, puritanical atom of 1950s America, as leader of the pack Paula and her Violent Girls – Phyliss, Georgia and Geraldine – go on a rampage and pay for it with their lives.

Kerry has brought it pretty much intact, albeit abridged, to the stage, along with some high-octane original songs that work from rockabilly to Joan Jett and riot grrrl (“Ever Feel Like Fucking Shit Up?” the highlight, if only for its title).

There’s a lot of Cry Baby about it, some Heathers too, and it’s all a bit of fun, even if the points it’s making are mostly lost in the mash-up.

And it’s not a show for a quiet late-night Sunday in front of a dozen punters.

The Violent Years (1956) plays The Blue Room Theatre until January 26.

Pictured top (from left to right): Billie Miles as Phyllis, Lucy Green as Geraldine and Elsa J Cherlin as Georgia. “The Violent Years”. Photo: Rachel Kerry.

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Author —
David Zampatti

David Zampatti has been a student politician, a band manager, the Freo Dockers’ events guy, a bar owner in California, The West Australian’s theatre critic and lots of other crazy stuff. He goes to every show he’s reviewing with the confident expectation it will be the best thing he’s ever seen.

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