Page last updated at 08:34 GMT, Thursday, 10 September 2009 09:34 UK

Never Mind...Here's Kurt and Sid

Kurt and Sid

by Kev Geoghegan
BBC News reporter

On 5 April 1994, a self-inflicted gun shot wound ended the life of Kurt Cobain, lead singer of Nirvana.

Tired of being tagged the grunge "spokesman" for Generation X, Cobain was a tragic victim of his own and his band's huge success.

The reluctant music star had adorned the bedroom walls of teenagers the world over - a modern icon of youthful alienation.

But just three years after the release of Nirvana's breakout album Nevermind, the body of the 27-year-old father and husband was found in his Seattle home, several days after he killed himself.

Arguably, an appetite for self-destruction and heroin addiction are about the only things he had in common with late punk icon Sid Vicious.

Yet, the two are thrown together in a new West End play, based on an idea of Vicious appearing to Cobain in his basement in those precious last moments before Cobain finally pulled the trigger.

"It's kind of a fantasy really, what if Kurt Cobain met Sid Vicious?," says actor Shaun Evans, the man charged with bringing the essence of Cobain to the stage.

Danny Dyer and Shaun Evans
Evans (front) starred in the acclaimed TV Drama Boy A

"If Sid Vicious, or an idea of Sid, came to convince him not to kill himself."

The 29-year-old Liverpudlian is best known for his roles in Teachers and, more recently, Martina Cole's The Take.

Speaking at a rehearsal studio in east London, Evans is joined by Danny Dyer - more familiar to movie audiences for his roles in films like The Football Factory, The Business and Severance.

Dyer has also taken a leaf out of former hard man actor-turned-documentarian Ross Kemp's book, exploring the worlds of football and underworld violence in The Real Football Factories and Danny Dyer's Deadliest Men.

Physically, he carries just the right amount of London swagger to play John Simon Ritchie, the birth name of Sid Vicious, bassist for the Sex Pistols.

He first came to the play, by acclaimed playwright Roy Smiles, around nine years ago and was hooked on the idea of playing the doomed punk superstar who died of a heroin overdose in 1979.

Doomed stars

"It's these two tortured souls in a room together, that's why it's such a mad idea," he says.

"These two people that would have never met, two totally different generations, two people that died before they should have, in a room having it out with each other."

Danny Dyer
I don't like what Oldman did with him, I think he played him like an idiot and I don't think that's fair

Vicious has been portrayed just once before, on the big screen, in Alex Cox's 1986 film Sid and Nancy, with Gary Oldman in the lead role.

Dyer says it will be difficult to get to the bottom of Vicious's appeal and bring it to a theatre audience.

"It's hard to portray him - he's not like Kurt. Kurt was a twisted genius, a great songwriter, brilliant with a guitar, " he says.

"What could Sid do? Jump around and cut himself? He became the biggest thing in the Pistols.

"People would come just to see him but why? What was it about this guy? He was talentless really."

He adds: "I don't like what Oldman did with him, I think he played him like an idiot and I don't think that's fair."

But Evans has perhaps a trickier role in the enigmatic Cobain, who has been dead just 15 years and is still fresh in the minds of fans.

The last time Cobain was portrayed in film was Gus Van Sant's Last Days in 2005, about a dazed Cobain rock star clone stumbling around his decaying mansion.

It drew heavy criticism from Cobain's former Nirvana bandmates.

"Dark journey"

Evans has grown out his natural red hair, which is now dyed dirty blonde, for the role. Evan says he was keen not to try to look like a Cobain imitator.

"We explored those options and thought about it but it's not really my bag.

"The stage is very small, so if I was to get hair extensions, you would see them.

Kurt Cobain
Nirvana have sold more than fifty million records worldwide

"If I got a wig, it would feel uncomfortable and weird.

"I'm not interested in doing an impression and if I was to wear a wig, you open yourself to people saying - 'Oh it doesn't really look like him', or 'It doesn't really sound like him'."

Sadly, the play's ending is already history but Dyer insists the two-hander will not be too depressing.

"It's a dark journey but it's funny, it has to be funny to have these two people in conversation. It can't just be completely dark, it has to be light," he says.

"There are a few moments where it'll be interesting to see how the audience reacts.

"Because you do find sometimes that as much as they want to laugh, they're frightened."

Kurt and Sid has a four week run at London's Trafalgar Studios 2 from 9 September to 3 October.

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