The Trials of Artistry without the Art; Theatre

The Evening Standard (London, England), September 15, 2009 | Go to article overview

The Trials of Artistry without the Art; Theatre


Byline: HENRY HITCHINGS

KURT AND SID Trafalgar Studios 2, SW1 **

SID Vicious was 21 when he fatally overdosed on heroin in 1979, and Kurt Cobain 27 when he died after taking the same drug 15 years later. Though their talents were of very different magnitude, their lives and deaths were linked by a strand of rock star delinquency.

In Roy Smiles's counterfactual play, Sid pays a visit to the Nirvana front man as he contemplates killing himself. Kurt is tired of the attentions of the media and the misappropriation of his music. "Just because you're paranoid don't mean they're not after you," groaned the real Kurt Cobain, and here the stench of justified anxiety is palpable.

When Sid averts Kurt's suicide, an abrasive debate begins. Initially, the focus is the nature of the visitation: is this Sid a ghost, well-informed imposter or figment of Kurt's imagination? He certainly seems more articulate than the Sex Pistols' blundering bassist ever was -- and is a moralist to boot, even spouting Latin epigrams.

Kurt is at first hostile to the intrusion, but slowly an understanding develops between the two men. They discuss the price of fame, their drug problems and their emotional entrapments.

While Smiles's script contains some smart lines, there are too many ploys to earn cheap laughs, the exploration of the penalties of genius seems adolescent, and the fundamental premise feels weak. …

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