***** 5 Stars
“A heart-rending exploration of sexuality, identity and sense of where we call home “
Original performed in 2019 as part of Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie and Pint, Andy McGregor’s one-man musical went on to achieve critical acclaim and was broadcast later that same year by BBC Scotland. There were whispers at the time of the producing company Sleeping Warrior Theatre Company delivering a Touring production, however the pandemic put paid to that. Finally, however the first Scottish tour McGregor’s heart-rending exploration of sexuality, identity and sense of where we call home is making its way around Scotland.
Set before the age of the internet and the evolution of the mobile phone in 1997, Crocodile rock tells the story of 17-year-old Steven living his life on the island of Millport, feeling lost and repressed in the island community he fears being for ever stuck following his parents’ footsteps in running the local pub and bed and breakfast. That is until a chance meeting with a drag queen who is staying at the b&b for the island festival. That Queen unlocks the truth in Steven as he faces up to being gay and that Drag offers him the self-expression he craves.
McGregor both writes, composes and directs this beautifully judged and emotional of musicals and its feels there is strong auto-biographical flavour to it that the audience can’t help but by beguiled by. Running at 75 minutes McGregor truly lets the audience inhabit Steven’s world, the pain, confusion and ultimately the strength and joy the character feels on his journey to self-acceptance.
In the role of Steven, Stephen Arden delivers a masterclass of emotionally truthful acting along with a well-judged and delivered comedy coupled with a gorgeous voice and thanks to the frequent inclusion of the audience through asides everyone in the Tron went on a collective journey that touches the heart, soul and memories of us all. Truly wonderful theatre at its very best.
Joining Arden on stage is musical director Andy Manning they also turn in a wonderful performance as both MD and backing singer and stunning saxophone solo, they are accompanied with Kim Shepard and Simon Donaldson.
Kenny Miller set, and costume design is pitch perfect allowing both Millport and bright lights of Glasgow to shine under Grant Andersons thoughtful lighting design further supported by Fraser Milroy’s perfectly executed sound design.
Crocodile rock is a shining beacon of excellent writing, stellar performances and a rare stark honesty that is missing from so much of modern musical theatre, it allows us to not only view Steven’s journey but reflect on our own and the music sears itself into the heart you can’t help but leave the theatre filled with hope for what lies ahead. For that is ultimately the essence of this show, hope! And the reality that before we can ever love someone else, we need to love ourselves first no matter the cost. Do what you must to grab a ticket for this remarkable production while it continues to tour Scotland.
Crocodile Rock, Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Run Ended but the production continues to tour Scotland, for further information go to: https://sleepingwarriortheatre.com/crocodile-rocka-new-life