Monday, 7 January 2013

Jagger In Jail

Jagger In Jail was a play by Nigel Smith broadcast on Radio 4 last week as part of their History Plays series.

Starring Kayvan Novak (Facejacker) as Mick Jagger and Blake Harrison (The Inbetweeners) as Jim.

It is 1967, the summer of love and Mick Jagger, lead singer of the Rolling Stones, is in prison starting his three month sentence for drug possession. His trial - and particularly his sentence - has both scandalised and split public opinion.

Jagger in Jail imagines the conversation that might have taken place between Mick and a cellmate, Jim, during what turned out to be his only night behind bars. As the night passes Jim and Mick find that while they have a fair bit in common, society's plans for them could not be more different. And Jim isn't too happy about it....

It was a very interesting half hour play, well written and touching upon a lot of interesting ideas about the 60s and the state of the country at the time, specifically how opportunities were available for some and not for others. It transpires that Mick and Jim had gone to school together yet their lives could not be more different. Mick Jagger feels the counter revolution has worked, but lives in fear of losing his relevancy - something which may well have been playing on his mind with the notion of three months away from the limelight - and the world moving on. He even complains at the futility of playing live to audiences screaming too loud to hear. Whilst Jim already understandably feels left behind; he's due out the following morning, but after two and a half years inside, prison has become his home now. He knows the world has moved on and what captures the imagination of those outside, such as The Stones, seem facile compared to him. He's bitter. The England he sees now disgusts, terrifies and alienates him, and there's some great attacks about the already burgeoning mythology of 'Swinging London' and the horrors of jerry built new towns like Redditch, with their tower blocks and roads...

''Roads, we're always building bloody roads. It's never worth the journey when you get there. There'll just be another municipal flower bed, a mural and a supermarket'' - Jim

Jim can't understand how the rest of Europe seems to have progressed correctly, especially Germany, rebuilt after WWII whilst his own country still bears the marks of bomb damage between the new builds. When the topic turns to Scandinavia - the ultimate chic of architecture and design - Jagger points out...

"Helskinki doesn't have The King's Road''

To which Jim counters...

"Most of this country hasn't got The King's Road! Redditch certainly ain't. There's about 200 of you who've got it...the rest of us are just looking on" 

It's a two hander play and for my money, Harrison owns it. He nails his character and breaks free of the radio trappings to suggest movement in his performance, something that is sadly lacking from Novak; you can almost see him reading his script. Primarily an impressionist, it is perhaps telling that he is concentrating more on imitating Mick Jagger's voice rather than giving a performance.

A great social commentary, satisfying with hindsight too Jagger In Jail, for its setting alone, is often reminiscent of an episode of Porridge or Simon Gray's play Cell Mates.

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