Please Kill Me is the (poisonous) fruit of hundred of interviews with the people who contributed to one of the most tumultuous cultural and musical movements of the late 20th century: the American punk rock scene. The book is a tightly woven, extremely lively montage, in turn ruthlessly funny and downright tragic, in which voices respond to each other but rarely come in unison. They offer an incredible journey through everyday lives filled with drugs and catastrophes, drugs and (sometimes) poetry – those of the Velvet Underground, Iggy Pop’s Stooges, MC5, the New York Dolls, Johnny Thunders’s Heartbreakers, Patti Smith, Television, the Ramones and Blondie.
On stage there are three musicians and a pair of actors/singers. Matthias Girbig plays a young man filled with naiveté and wonder, who moves from one memory to another, and sings in English. Kate Strong, a tensed, focused performer, keeps a sort of moved distance as she sings and tells the story in English. The voice carries the words without translating or betraying them.
The play delves into the punk movement, turns rock and punk music inside out, revealing the life of the protagonists with surprising intimacy – an extravagant life filled with music, sex, humour and massive amounts of drugs – sometimes leading to overdoses – not to mention the trials and tribulations that go with living in the margins. But what is most striking in these more or less famous heroes of Rock ‘n Roll – and indeed, at the time, many were far from famous –, is their freedom and creativity. Mathieu Bauer does not try to recreate a punk concert, which would be an impossible venture. Instead, he brings to the stage what is most crucial to him, thrilled as he is by the tormented lives of the musicians, however known they may be.