It was the decade of Britpop, Beanie Babies, and Blockbuster (RIP).
90s Kids Only begins to the tune of Nirvana’s ‘Come As You Are’. The song, aptly released exactly 20 years ago, features juxtaposing lyrics which perfectly describe the surreal plot of this production from Laurentz Valdes-Lea and Spike Woodley.
As self-assured Ozzy (Ejiro Imiruaye) strolls in to the sound of Kurt Cobain, the audience is instantly transported back to the 1990s. Ozzy has a resolute answer to the impossible question, “when did the universe begin?”. For him, life didn’t start until the clock struck midnight on December 31st, 1989.
He spends each day trying to convince the British public that he is correct, without much luck. That is until student Benji (Grace Revill) misunderstands Ozzy’s plea as an invite to a Nineties Night at the SU. Fellow revellers Diggs (Hugo Knowles), Pudsey (Lewis Fraser), and Reverend Parker (Thomas Davy) also arrive in appropriate fancy dress. And so, a cult is born.
The “no ordinary 90s event” kicks off until feisty Liverpudlian club manager Kel (Leah Hand) lays down the law. Desperate to “prove” that the universe began in 1990, Ozzy hatches a plan to find a spokesperson for their cause. He settles on the Michelangelo of the decade, Art Attack’s Neil Buchanan. After which a wild goose chase ensues to track down the Scouse sculptor after fears of kidnapping emerge. Sound tracking this madcap activity is a love affair to the 90s as the ravers reminisce about the world-defining decade.
With a minimal set—a single table filled with Nineties memorabilia—there is no room for the actors to hide. They remain wide-eyed and trusting as Ozzy makes them question everything they have ever known.
What is Ozzy’s obsession with the 1990s? He claims everything interesting peaked in this decade, such as Beano, Blink 182, and Brum. His mission is to remind people of their roots and to revive the times we love. It works, as the youngsters found what they were looking for: each other. Reverend Parker once had true faith and is now faithless, but this new order looks to set him back on the road to his vocation. Other comrades reach across the barricades from their respective Blur vs Oasis camps to find romance.
The script remains light-hearted and zany throughout its whirlwind 45 minutes, before revealing exactly why Ozzy is infatuated with the 90s. The twist is a punch to the gut and injects into this surreal comedy a refreshing dose of realism. For these fresh young students, most of the 1990s is a vintage, throwback era where people wore a lot of denim (all of it at once). It’s the stuff of cringey anecdotes told by their parents, and themed fresher parties. But for Ozzy, and in fact many of us, that time was a safe haven before his life changed forever.
Beneath the wacky exterior of 90s Kids Only is a key message: you must make peace with your past and endeavour to enjoy your present.
Words by Tayler Finnegan.
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