The plot revolves around two friends, Steve and Nick. Initially very different, the pair soon begin bonding over the music played by punk rock bands; specifically, The Clash. As teenagers, they play in bands, sniff glue and take part in demonstrations, all on the advice of Joe Strummer, who one of the pair claims to have hung around with on tour. They gradually begin to drift apart, as adults, but still occasionally meet by chance at gigs and protests over the years. On hearing news of his death, at the play's culmination, they decide to visit the woods in which he is buried. Along the way, numerous secrets are revealed...
A fast-paced, funny and elegiac tribute to a great man, Meeting Joe Strummer is a highly fitting epitaph to a musical genius. As a fan of his music, I am at risk of sounding a little biased; however, although some of the more esoteric quotations of his lyrics may be lost on the non-Clash-fan, the play is witty and engaging enough to appeal to those who may not have come across his work previously. The musical selection throughout is excellent; a lot of The Clashs's bigger hits are eschewed in favour of choice studio and live cuts, as well as some tracks from The Mescaleros, the band he was performing with around the time of his sadly premature death.
Paul Hodson, the writer and director of the piece, is clearly a huge fan of Strummer's life and work. Steve North and Jason Pitt both deliver strong performances as the two central characters. North is also a big Strummer fan. According to the play's program, the scene in which his character meets Strummer, in a highly inebriated state and garbles "you changed my life" at him, before passing out, is based on a real-life incident!
The play ends on a moving, yet positive note; as Strummer's inspirational "The Future Is Unwritten" quote is intoned in the closing scene. Meeting Joe Strummer is more than just a tribute; it is a warm, engaging, and at times revolutionary piece of theatre. Recommended for Clash fans, comedy enthusiasts and theatre-goers everywhere. Go and see this play!