The turmoil of youth is at the center of SU Drama’s Punk Rock

Justise Hayward (Chadwick) and Ezekiel Edmonds (Bennett) star in 'Punk Rock.' Photo by Mike Davis.

Justise Hayward (Chadwick) and Ezekiel Edmonds (Bennett) star in ‘Punk Rock,’ currently at the Storch Theatre. Photo by Mike Davis.

Who: SU Drama’s mainstage production of  “Punk Rock”

Where: 820 East Genesee Street Syracuse, N.Y. 13210

When: Feb. 19-28

Tickets: $17-19

“Punk Rock” has one of the most engaging and tension building plots out today. Currently presented by SU Drama at the Storch Theater, “Punk Rock” combines a phenomenal cast and great acting. Director Robert Moss managed to produce an environment and cast that blended flawlessly together. “Punk Rock” was able to make the audience feel engaged and be part of the world he created on stage.

The overall play was outstanding. Every actress and actor played his or her role with consistency and precision through every emotional high and low, which greatly helped to create a realistic and believable world for the audience members.

The audience takes part in joining the journey of seven high school students as they go through numerous struggles and pressures of their daily lives. Balancing a combination of school work, social lives, the burdens of their future and the turmoil going on within their own heads, the environment that was created on set had the audience feel as though they were on a thrilling and fearful roller coaster ride. Every scene is filled with crazy turns, intense build ups, followed by the inevitable 90 degree drop that will leave the audience feeling speechless.

Scenic Designer Robert Andrusko designed a set piece that gives the feel of being in a prestigious aged library with books that are older than the students who read them. This enclosed environment, held in a bright school, surrounds the characters in the play with literature written by innovative geniuses, yet none of the resources the students have at hand are able to teach them how to handle the everyday stresses they are facing in their heads. All of the students in the play strive to improve their grades and become the smartest student, yet none of them strive to become a better person. As a result, we begin to see them break down as the stress becomes too much for them.

Costume Designer Kiersten Kozbial’s decision to clothe each actor in uniforms contrast with the distinct personalities and even more unique problems of each character. Although it is easy  to judge and dismiss the characters from the beginning, as we naturally do in life, over time you grow to love and appreciate these characters. By the end of the play you feel the need to love each of the characters uniquely, not because of their good qualities, but rather you begin to love them because of their unique problems and imperfections.

PUNK ROCK

Isabella Moore (Lilly), Cole Francum (William) perform in ‘Punk Rock.’ Photo by Mike Davis.

William, a credulous and complex character who is played by Cole Francum, craftily played with the hearts of the audience while manipulating our perspective and judgment of William’s true intention throughout the play. On the opposite spectrum there is Bennett, who’s character is so easy to dislike and judge. Ezekiel Edmonds, who plays Bennett, managed to keep his character’s villainous stature consistent throughout the play. However, as the play goes on, Edmonds subtly shows his character’s true struggles and problems within his aggressive behavior towards the other students.

What this play does is bring out the loving parenting traits we all have within us. Forcing the audience to just watch, and not be able to interact as the series of events unfold in front of our very eyes, builds tension and stress which only enhances the experience. Seeing that there are characters in the play that can do something to change the outcome of certain events, causes the audience members to imagine themselves being the person to stick up for the underdog or guide those who are lost.

Leaving this play definitely creates a sense of purpose for the viewer. The need to go out and provide a helping hand whenever the opportunity arises will grow stronger after watching this play. To be able see inside the heads of these troubled teens was an adventure that brought more than just entertainment, it brings about sympathy and deep thinking about our own life and the lives of others.

*The above review was written by Alec Kassan

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