On Thursday, I visited Bristol Old Vic to see Junkyard, a Headlong, Bristol Old Vic, Rose Theatre Kingston and Theatr Clwyd production, directed by Jeremy Herrin. Junkyard is inspired by the story behind the real life Lockleaze Playground which was created over 30 years ago and still exists today. This is very much a show about Bristol and for Bristol, so the Old Vic is the perfect venue for it.
This production is a cleverly written ‘musical’ that will have you feeling each and every emotion as the characters do, a testimony to how well written and acted it is. A talented cast take you in, noisily and excitedly to tell you their story of Junkyard. This tale is a familiar conversation that is repeated all across the country, a story of a group who have a space that means something to them but, in order to keep it, have to justify its importance. They must name it, define it and show its value in a society that continues to demand immediate results and measureable outcomes. It’s a constant battle to justify its existence. This is a difficult story, told beautifully with wit and bursts of enjoyable and heartfelt song. It highlights the continuing battles between real local communities and authorities who aim to and claim they support their respective communities but all too often restrict and limit the success of each place, guided by over zelous rules and limited by regulations. Their interference risks losing all sense of ‘community’ that made it great in the first place.
I thought that Junkyard was a brilliant show that will open many more conversations, I hope, about the value, the primal instinct, and the absolute NEED to play, in what ever form that may be. Go see it if you can so you can join in the conversation.
Junkyard is on until 18th March at the Bristol Old Vic.
Image by Manuel Harlan, with thanks