When I walked into the Pop Music at the Birmingham Rep, within the first five minutes I didn’t quite know what to expect. Two people and a man doing sign language at a wedding talking about their love for music. Little did I know I’d be taken on an emotional rollercoaster of the lives of a man and a woman through the music that is the soundtrack of their lives.
G and Kayla meet at a mutual friend’s wedding and are there together alone. Drunk on anything they could get their hands on at the free bar, and keen to throw some shapes on the dance floor, they stumble upon one another and start talking. Soon realising they went to the same school, the more alcohol they drink and music that’s played unravels the character’s layers to reveal the entanglements of life that make them who they are.
Kayla (Katherine Kotz) grew up in the popular crowd at school, but as her friends grew apart her life started to get tangled up. Falling in love at 19 and falling out of love at 29, dreams of becoming a singer but ending up in an office job, Kayla is constantly disappointed with the way her life is turning out and she desperately wants more.
G (Rakesh Boury) struggled through school but made up for it with a successful career, but he never quite managed to find himself. He talks of his teenage awkwardness and social anxiety, but it is the pure and tender relationship with his mother he describes that creates a really moving moment in the show.
The character of Remix played by Ciaran Alexander Stewart plays a silent third role in the show, who interprets it with BSL and adds a huge comedic influence through his characterisation. Interacting with the characters, Stewart’s comedy timing is superb.
Anna Jordan’s writing is genius in this production that is quick-witted, relevant and hugely contemporary. With a room full of ‘millennials’ the atmosphere was remarkable as howls of laughter filled the room. Through the exaggerated dance moves, lip syncing and dynamic dialogue it is a portrayal of real life and the ups and downs that come with it. The language is sharp and the narrative is compelling, it’s a simple concept executed with pure brilliance. You emotionally connect to the characters and their stories and it’s a really natural and honest production.
Pop music brings joy and escapism and this production enforces that message through an engaging coming of age story about two normal people navigating their way through life. Getting lost in the music and lost within their past, it’s the music that guides them forward and gives them hope.
Pop Music is an uplifting, powerful and fast-paced piece of theatre that takes you on an unforgettable musical journey that will profoundly resonate and leave you thinking about the music that shaped your life.
On at the Birmingham Rep until the 22nd of September, tickets and information can be found online here.