Glastonbury follows four friends, the separated Dorian and Matt and married couple Sue and Dave, as they enjoy the Glastonbury music festival from the comforts of camping chairs and their luxury yurt. The show explores their history together (they were all in a band together), their connection to the festival, and the current tension and complications in their relationships. With each character approaching the festival with a different perspective, Glastonbury becomes a rather conflicted interaction.
The characters being older brings a new and rather interesting perspective to the show, and this starts off quite strongly as they reminisce about their youth and make amusing digs at the often wild spirit at music festivals. However this digresses as the show goes on, lapsing into an obvious mockery of more progressive ideals. The characters however aren't set up to believe this, especially given that Matt is queer himself. Two younger characters appear around the mid point of the show and are crude caricatures of the modern youth. With a borderline offensive drug dealer, Vex and a two-dimensional woke spiritual singer Sky, the two characters are subject to endless jokes and unnecessary plots. The show tries to justify these characters by having Sue and Dave comfort and empower them, yet this doesn't quite have the intended effect.
The staging is quite minimal with coloured flags hung above the stage, creating a festival environment. Camp chairs, flasks and a stow away table help set the scene and its effective in placing the play in Glastonbury. The lighting is fun, set to be continually changing colours throughout, dowsing the audience in calm tones of blue, yellow, red and purple.
Each character has a random and abrupt solo moment to sing in the show, which doesn't quite fit. They often interrupt a scene with little to no relation to the scene. Whilst it was amusing to see the theatricality of "breaking into song" in real time, the other characters freeze and aren't aware of this sudden musical moment, making it even more awkward. Furthermore, these moments often include time jumps and it was bizarrely confusing to try and process and understand where the conversation had proceeded to.
The show also tries to use Dorian and Vex, to push anti-racism, yet contradicts this in both of the character's actions. For example, Dorian states that knife crime isn't a black person crime, yet Vex is the only one to smuggle one. However they do make a few strong points throughout. The show does have a few moments of comedic and dramatic flair through the character of Dave. His portrayal of the serious lecturer and Shakespeare lover (resulting in a fun moment of performing a monologue from Macbeth), to unexpectedly rapping about the pandemic, pop culture references and calling for change was hilarious.
Glastonbury is a show with immense potential and an interesting premise. Glastonbury is currently playing at Riverside Studios as part of the Bitesized Festival until the 4th of February. For more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.
AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review