Barbarians revival for the Soho home of punk


Tooting Arts Club are set to revive Barrie Keeffe’s Barbarians in a new temporary home in Soho, in the former Central Saint Martins School of Art – the birthplace of UK punk.

The former Central Saint Martins School of Art building, on Charing Cross Road, housed the art school until 2011. Alumni include Jarvis Cocker, Paul Simonon of The Clash, Shane MacGowan, Adam Ant and Glenn Matlock of the Sex Pistols, who played their very first gig in the building in November 1975. They were thrown off stage after 20 minutes.

In 1977, Britain had just emerged from a worldwide recession. It was the Queen’s silver jubilee year but Paul, Jan and Louis had little to celebrate. With widespread youth unemployment and little opportunity on the horizon, there was anarchy in the air.

Barbarians follows the fluctuating fortunes of its three male characters on a journey that is as humorous as it is brutal, to the soundtrack of The Clash, the Sex Pistols and the Jam.


Saint Martins provides the perfect setting, steeped in the punk culture of that time, to revive this acclaimed production which is as relevant now as it was then.

Barrie Keeffe said that the building was the perfect home for the new production.

He said: “When I wrote Barbarians I was trying to capture that energy of punk on the stage, so to have it performed at such an important building from that time is very exciting.

“It sounds odd to say, but I’ve mixed feelings about seeing Barbarians revived.

“When I wrote it, I thought it was a play of its time, but in a way it’s sad that it’s still so relevant to the situation of young people today.

“Obviously I’m very happy to see it produced, but shocked that the problems in it are still around today”.

Producer Rachel Edwards said: “We knew the venue for this production had to be right, and we sought long and hard for the right location.

“St Martins embodies the creativity and imagination of the young people of that era and, as such, it provides a perfect playground for the uncontained, rebellious energy of the young men we meet in Barbarians.”

Cast: Thomas Coombes, Jake Davies, and Josh Williams.

Barbarians consists of three separate short plays featuring the same characters at different stages in their lives.

Killing Time was first presented by the National Youth Theatre at the Soho Poly Theatre Club (now the Soho Theatre) in 1977, with Dotun Adebayo, Robert Glenister and Michael Kelly.

Abide With Me was first presented by the Soho Theatre Company at the Soho Poly Theatre Club (now the Soho Theatre) in 1976, with Karl Johnson, Philip Davis and Elvis Payne.

In The City received its first production at the Greenwich Theatre, London in 1977, with Nick Edmett, Karl Johnson and Jeffery Kissoon.

Barbarians runs at Central St Martins School of Art, 111 Charing Cross Road, from September 29 – November 7.

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