T. Rex dominated the world of glam rock, but front man Marc Bolan is another musician gone too soon. His tragic story is brought to stage in 20th Century Boy, from his chart-topping successes to his untimely death.
His son Rolan (Luke Bailey) was only two when his father died, but now he travels from America to London in search of the answers his mother will not give him. We are walked through Bolan’s career as Rolan meets his father’s friends and family in order to know the man he can never meet.
Bailey is brimming with enthusiasm, however it is the moments when he connects with Bolan (Warren Sollars) in his father’s music that allow him to capture the audience.
Marc’s story of his rise to fame and fortune is told to Rolan through a mixture of emotional renditions of his songs by those who loved him and flashbacks to his musical past.
Sollars captures Marc’s arrogant ego as he strives to be “bigger than Elvis” and struts and pouts on stage in true Bolan style. He is superbly supported by the band, which gets the audience dancing in the aisles by the end of the show.
Donna Hines shines as Rolan’s mother Gloria Jones, who is still too grief-stricken and guilt-ridden to discuss Marc’s life with her son.
Rolan turns to his grandmother Phyllis Feld (Sue Jenkins) and uncle Harry (Peter Manchester) to fill in the gaps with Jenkns’ moving memories of Bolan, but he quickly learns that Phyllis blames Gloria’s for her son’s death and preferred his wife June Child.
Bolan’s journey with Child (Lucy Sinclair) begins with fairytale romance, but as the rockstar life consumes Bolan, she crumbles and Sinclair perfectly captures the overwhelming betrayal.
The show leads you through Bolan’s career and T. Rex’s music, and whether you are Children of the Revolution or you Love to Boogie, Sollars’ renditions of their hits give 20th Century Boy its glam rock appeal.
– Reviewed by a guest contributor