Love and rage and surviving it all

Published: 11 May 2019
Reporter: Peter Lathan

“It is rare indeed to come out of a theatre feeling perfectly satisfied.”

I wrote that back in October 2014 about gobscure and sean burn’s last full-length play, collector of tears, a play which I later selected as the Best New Play of the Year and, at the same time, named its director Jackie Fielding as Best NE Director.

Now burn and gobscure are returning to the region with joey, a story about growing up in '80s Britain, about playgrounds and care homes, Doc Martens and red laces, punk and cassette tapes, about smashed up tellies and running away, about three kids called spaz, dumbo and psycho. A story of love and rage and surviving it all.

Originally commissioned by New Wolsey Theatre Testing Ground and co-produced by Greyscale and supported by ACE, Northern Stage, Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, Camden Peoples Theatre, Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme, Live Theatre and PULSE, joey will be directed by Selma Dimitrijevic of Greyscale and will be performed by Faye Alvi (BSL Translator) and regular Greyscale actor Stockton-born Scott Turnbull (Gods Are Fallen and All Safety Gone, Hedda Gabler and Dr Frankenstein for Greyscale; Ferdinand in The Tempest for The Customs House, South Shields, and his own one-man show Where Do All the Dead Pigeons Go? at the Edinburgh Fringe and touring).

“I read the first version of joey about three years ago,” said Selma Dimitrijevic, “and I knew right then I wanted to direct it. A true story of a life that is in so many ways close to ours but is also, at every step, stranger than any fiction I can imagine. Spanning from the '80s, through our time and into the future, this play is not afraid to say the unsayable and to invite you to stand together to stop history from repeating itself.”

Faye Alvi, a cast member and BSL Translator, added, “I became involved in joey 18 months ago, exploring the possibilities of it becoming a bilingual piece. Immediately struck by the language—beautiful, angry and jarring, it was something I couldn't put down. Translating this true story given the language complexities and torrent of emotion is as much mentally challenging as it is physically. joey is a story I felt immediately connected to and a part of.”

The preview tour begins at the Queens Hall, Hexham, on 6 June at 7:30. The production then moves to the Pulse Festival, Ipswich, on 7 June at 6:30 and returns to the North East at ARC Stockton on 12 June at 7:00, going on to Northern Stage (Stage 3) from 13 to 15 June at 8:00, with a post-show discussion on 14.