Pink Floyd's The Wall
The Hardcore Troubadours
Customs House, South Shields
They said "Hey teacher leave those kids alone!" Famous words by the legendary rock band, although I couldn't help feeling it should have been "Hey people leave The Wall alone!" Or at least, this was my thought before I had taken my seat to experience this new take on Pink Floyd's iconic piece of work. However thoughts change, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse!
The Hardcore Troubadours are a North East band who have brought to the stage The Who's Tommy and entertained many with their rock stylings in the South Tyneside area, but to take on The Wall is a very different kettle of fish! The Wall, Pink Floyd's most famous peice of work, is already such a memorable rock spectacle and the Troubadours have attempted to t give it a new theatrical twist.
The story follows Pink, a 70's rock star who has locked himself away in his hotel room. In his time alone, trapped in the four walls, he goes through a nervous breakdown while reliving his past: schoolyard bullying, the death of his father and of his marriage. Through Floyd's music we are taken through key points of his life - and, indeed, many points of our own lives.
The staging for The Wall is raw: steel decking, band on stage and a white screen on which are projected video images. No big sets to come on, not a lot of props, just the band, a screen and a space to work in. For me this worked as a base to tell the story: nothing too flash, just enough to get the message across.
With a full rock band you would expect a full rock sound, and that is exactly what we got! Although the sound was a little well too full, which meant it did drown out the singers, making the audience struggle to hear just what the words of the songs. Not really what you want, as the best thing about The Wall is its powerful lyrics.
Once of the most surprising performances in The Wall was by the youngest member of cast, fifteen year old James Baxter as the young Pink. He gave a lot to the show and was very confident in presence and in voice. The supporting cast, made up of well known Customs House actors Audrey Anne Myers, Angela Szalay and panto legend Bob Stott, all give great performances. However the older leading man Pink, played by Moon, showed that the step from singer to actor isn't an easy move to make. Well known for his singing ability, Moon did not take to that step very well. In fact, he tripped over the step and had a bad fall! He did not feel at ease with creating the drama that is needed with such a heavy piece, and looked uncomfortable with any dramatic movement.
The performance did help me remember that with Floyd there are songs that carry great political and poignant meaning, which you take on board without even noticing there is a message there. They know how to get the right message across in the right way. So with some great songs and great scenes (especially the court room) the Troubadours' The Wall makes you feel like you've been on a great life journey and tapped your foot all the way!
Reviewer: Wayne Miller