Theatre Review: Mick Unplugged embraces inner dork for inner goodness

“Accept your inner dork!”

Just one of the hilarious, but poignant lines from Greg Nelson’s Mick Unplugged, part of this year’s playRites Festival from ATP. Jack (David Trimble) teases Mitch (Stephen Sparks) mercilessly about his new ambition and flat out tells him to “accept your inner dork.” Although Jack tells Mitch he’s a failure, he’s giving him some good advice. Variations on this statement apply to other characters in this delightful romantic comedy. They struggle with their own idiosyncrasies and neuroses in an attempt to achieve meaning in their lives. But if they accept their quirks and those of others, they may be well on their way to achieving their desires.

Upon rediscovering the Clash album London Calling, Mitch drops everything in order to pursue his dream of starting a record label. He starts off by changing his name to Mick and then meets up with old pals Gina (Helen Taylor) and Jack, who are made uneasy by his quixotic behaviour. While doing a favour for Jack, Mitch meets Bonnie (Kira Bradley), a fan of Jack’s old punk band Barf, and another aspiring punk rocker, Zig (Rob van Meenen). Mitch takes Zig on as his pet project. In the process, Mick Unplugged unfolds into a humourous tale about love, sex and the pursuit of dreams.

Although Jack and Gina think Mitch’s idea is a joke, it forces them to reevaluate their own lives. Gina ponders her failings. She reflects on her purchase of a shabby bar, her dissolved relationships and personal policy. Jack, a Jesus finding (sort of) ex-con, struggles with his urge to cause bodily harm. He wants to break free from his cruel little world and be successful. Donning punk rock garb, Jack confronts Gina and Mitch in her bar, tells him to “accept your inner dork,” steals Gina’s money, fires a gun and drives off in a stolen vehicle.

David Trimble stands out in this superbly talented cast, with his physical performance capturing Jack’s eccentricity. When anything upsets Jack, he shakes mildly and looks like he’s about to act out his former band’s name. He also engages in some bizarre therapy in which he counts to five, rubs his face and sputters profusely–perhaps to curb any desire to hurt people. Trimble guarantees to have patrons rolling in the aisles.

The most stunning element in Mick Unplugged is the mysterious leather clad punk guitarist who rocks out in slow motion on top of the bar during most scene changes. Accompanied by music from the Clash, this dark figure recalls the god archetype found in Greek drama. As such, he observes the action below and offers his input when he feels it’s warranted.

Full of good laughs, good music and, yes, brief nudity, Mick Unplugged is a gem. If you are thinking about checking out the playRites festival, this show is a must see. It’s time to accept your inner theatre nerd.

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