High School Hell: Zeitgeist Stage’s ‘Punk Rock’ has nothing to do with music

From left to right: James Fay, Alexandra Marie Harrington, Alana Osborn-Lief, and Phil Gillen
From left: James Fay, Alexandra Marie Harrington, Alana Osborn-Lief and Phil Gillen in “Punk Rock.”

Simon Stephens’ tale of teen angst glosses over the expected topics that challeneg 17-year-olds — sex, drugs and coming-of-age challenges — instead delving headfirst into a seething cauldron of adolescent rage that, sadly, begets violence.

We’ve seen these characters before. Think “The Breakfast Club,” but replace Molly Ringwald and company with a group of affluent British teens grappling with issues that run the gamut from bullying, humiliation and burning to get into Oxford. Then you have Zeitgeist Stage’s “Punk Rock.”

There’s Cissy (Alexandra Marie Harrington), the perfect blonde with the grades to back it all up; Bennett (James Fay), her insufferable, bullying boyfriend; Chadwick (Alex Levy), the genius loser who bears the brunt of Bennett’s ire; Nicholas (Diego Buscaglia), the token hot guy on campus; Lilly (Emily White), the fascinating new girl; Tanya (Alana Osborn-Lief), the sweet one; and William (Phil Gillen), the — seemingly — normal one.

Though it takes some time for the story to distinguish itself from typical adolescent melodramas, once it does you can expect to be transfixed by what unfolds. The very walls feel like they’re closing in while watching this riveting Zeitgeist Stage production.

Bennett’s relentless bullying is so disturbing it’s hard to resist the urge to jump onstage and pummel the obnoxious smartass on behalf of everyone who’s ever suffered at the hands of a teenaged tormentor. When Chadwick finally does respond, in one of the show’s most explosive moments, it’s equally challenging not to stand up and applaud mid-scene.

But, as in life, it’s the person you least suspect who ultimately wreaks the most havoc. Though you feel the pain of the star student when she gets a B, and you begin to understand the relief someone may get from cutting or burning, these allowances still do not fully prepare you for the gut-wrenching climaxes that await them.

Given its proximity to the bombings at the Boston Marathon, the violence and torment in “Punk Rock” is especially haunting, but nonetheless — and perhaps even more so — superb.

If you go

“Punk Rock” 
Through May 25
BCA Black Box Theatre
539 Tremont St., Boston
$25, 617-933-8600
zeitgeiststage.com



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

International

North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…