Published: 24/04/2014 13:03 - Updated: 24/04/2014 13:25

REVIEW: 20th Century Boy

Warren Sollars and red boa as Marc Bolan in 20th Century Boy.
Warren Sollars and red boa as Marc Bolan in 20th Century Boy.


20th Century Boy

Eden Court, Inverness

* * * *

RED feathers from Marc Bolan boas drifted around Eden Court last weekend, proving that the legend was in the house. OK, a dead legend. But in musical 20TH CENTURY BOY, Bolan’s stardust still has the power to get a crowd on its feet. Twice.

There’s echoes of every rock star tragedy you can think of in his life-story.

But his charm, style, drive for fame and chameleon ability to surf music genres came with one unique feature – the voice.

As his mum Phyllis (Sue Jenkins) comments early in the story: "He sounded like Larry the Lamb with laryngitis."

But that – with his boho groove, pseudo-spiritual mysticism and talent for a song – gave him the unique edge on all the wannabes of 60s London to get him what he had wanted as a youngster, to be bigger than Elvis.

We’re well into the second half of the show before he finds out that his band T.Rex has sold five million records in a year – more than Elvis. But by then, it almost doesn’t matter.

By then, an American tour has "broken him into little pieces", he’s signed bad financial deals, alienated master producer Tony Visconti and his wife June has found out about his affair with American soul singer Gloria Jones. Devasatingly, June tells Marc he "uses people up".

It’s a tough story for his son Rolan (Luke Bailey of TV's Waterloo Road ) to learn. He already blames his mum Gloria for driving Marc’s signature white Rolls Royce into a tree where he dies, on his 30th birthday.

Warren Sollars as Marc. Pictures: Robert Day
Warren Sollars as Marc. Pictures: Robert Day

That tree bookends the show.

The action begins with Rolan at home in America, rewinding and rewinding footage of the news of the crash, before he comes full circle - having come to the UK, found out about his dad - reuniting Marc’s relations with Gloria at the crash site on the anniversary of the "electric warrior's" death.

Warren Sollars does an uncannily faithful impression of Marc the man and the artist, with the strong chorus and band joining him throughout to sing the biggest Bolan hits.

Both Donna Hines as Gloria and Lucy Sinclair as June showcase powerhouse voices.

And the team creates some spectacular moments – the opening number with Marc as a sharp-suited Mod on the coffee bar scene and Marc and June’s hippy wedding to Light Of Love, were just two.

The moveable set – with a front-stage frame that showed relevant images and news headlines – helped tell the story, as did Marc’s ever-changing era-defining costumes (didn’t love his wig though).

20th Century Boy lovingly replays the legend of "the dandy of the underworld" and brings Bolan’s best songs to the party.

Margaret Chrystall

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