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HARD CORE LOGO LIVE by Michael Scholar Jr. (BFL Theatre). The Cave at Lees Palace (529 Bloor West). Runs to.
HARD CORE LOGO LIVE by Michael Scholar Jr. (BFL Theatre). The Cave at Lees Palace (529 Bloor West). Runs to March 26. $36. See listing. Rating: NNNN
For Canadian punks and rockers, Bruce McDonalds 1996 mockumentary is pretty much gospel, so anything less than a super-authentic staging would amount to weak sacrilege. Luckily, BFL artistic director Seth Drabinsky and director Ron Jenkins have cast a killer lineup of actor/musicians who bring strong rock chops and raw punk power to the stage, ably filling the shoes of their filmic counterparts.
The story (originally a book by Michael Turner) follows the reunion of a fictional semi-successful Vancouver punk quartet. The action begins five years after their messy breakup when perennially self-destructive singer and band leader Joe Dick (Al Nolan) convinces the others to reunite for a short tour. Tensions grow between true-believing anarchist Dick and slick, show-off guitarist Billy Tallent (Andrew Fleming), who has an offer to join a big-time Seattle buzz band.
Michael Scholar Jr.s stage adaptation eliminates McDonalds documentary film crew frame but will otherwise satisfy fans looking for a faithful rendering. It remains a hilariously accurate snapshot of slovenly rough-and-tumble band life on the road, but also a much deeper parable about friendship, life choices, punk ethos and authenticity that ends up being unexpectedly profound and thought-provoking.
As it should be, the bands musical performance is the strongest element. Nolan (who Toronto punk fans will remember fronted the Almighty Trigger Happy) is a huge presence and absolutely kills it, and Flemming and bandmates Michael Dufays and Thomas Scott are convincing as an experienced, road-tested punk unit. Their offstage antics sometimes funny and other times devastatingly irresponsible also hit the right marks, thanks in part to Jenkinss creative use of spaces like the top of amp stacks and the aisle between seats.
Whether youre a diehard fan of the film ready to shout along to your favourite lines or a first-time inductee to this essential piece of Can-rock mythology, the only thing thatll disappoint you about this high-octane production is being confined to theatre-style seating.