Saturday, April 14, 2018

Whatever Happened to Vandal Raptor? - Vandal Factory - Review

Whatever Happened to Vandal Raptor?  
Vandal Factory @ TESTT Space  
12th April 2018

Written by Henry Raby
Directed by Natalie Quatermass

Punk is dead. Or is it? Vandal Raptor is a punk band - an imaginary one, dreamt up by Henry Raby. Henry Raby is a punk poet. As people arrive he welcomes us and politely asks if we'd like a badge, and would anyone mind being a gig promoter for the evening...? It doesn't involve much, just one line to read out..?

Once we are all seated, he welcomes us again and encourages us to practice some audience participation for later in the show. He is quietly spoken and too polite for a punk. Henry Raby is probably the politest punk you're likely to meet, but his heart beats with punk passion and conviction. He came to punk in the 00s and regrets the lost chances to see the great bands live. He can only dream of them...and so he has - creating Vandal Raptor, the best and only dinosaur punk band!

Through the course of the hour we learn about Bert, Hog, Izzy and Kim four friends who formed a band and were going to change the world - with three chords and dinosaur lyrics. We hear about their passion for change, for kicking back against the establishment and we see how, ten years after the band split, life and growing up has changed them, moulded them into uncomfortable conformity, blunted the enthusiasm and the passion,

This show is one man's love  affair with punk, it's about rebelling and conforming, about growing up and changing, and staying true to yourself and your beliefs. It's about passion and belief, and not allowing yourself to lose sight of what's important. Through a creative mix of music, poetry, and storytelling Henry Raby gives a tribute to the punk era that is both humorous and sad. He implores us not to allow the rebellious spirit of punk to die - and we end on the Vandal Raptor battle cry - "How do you stop from going extinct? Resist! Resist! Resist!"

The venue TESTT Space is a repurposed corporate office, brown cord carpet hiding all manor of establishment stains, and a dank, damp smell of neglect pervades it - very punk! It has been taken over as a community arts venue, offering workshops, exhibition and performance space and a testing ground for new ideas- not unlike, maybe, the Raptors' vision for the derelict old New Rose Pub.

On my way to the gig I passed a homeless guy in a shop doorway, in the rain. I put some loose change in his tin, apologised that it wasn't much. He thanked me cheerfully and wished me a good evening.  A taxi driver sitting warm in his cab a few metres away called out as I passed by, "He's probably got more money than you and me, love!". Perhaps he has. Perhaps that's how you get rich in this day and age - you sit in a freezing doorway, wrapped in damp blanket and beg for loose change. And perhaps we have more need of a punk attitude than ever. Nothing much has changed - and everything has changed since the punk era. If I had seen the taxi man as I left, I think I might have gobbed on him. Don't accept things the way they are. Do your bit, however small, and Resist! Resist! Resist!

Whatever Happened to Vandal Raptor? is on tour this month - dig out your safety pins, spike up your hair and go see it if it's near you. Details of venues below. 

Denise Sparrowhawk

The New Adelphi89 De Grey St, Hull HU5 2RU
April 15th
Workshop Theatre
School of English
University of Leeds
Leeds LS2 9JT
April 17th
 Hydra Bookshop
34 Old Market St, Bristol BS2 0EZ
April 18th
 Derby Theatre
15 Theatre Walk, Derby DE1 2NF
April 20th
Harrogate Theatre
6 Oxford St, Harrogate HG1 1QF
April 24-25th
Ovalhouse London
52-54 Kennington Oval, London SE11 5SW
April 26-28th

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