Rotten to the core

Shane Adamczak and Patrick Rogers. Picture: Louis Longpre

Versatile Perth musician, actor and comedian Shane Adamczak has shed his chic-geek Zack Adams persona to perfect the contemptuous lip curl of punk icon Johnny Rotten.

Adamczak is almost a dead ringer for Rotten, the Sex Pistols frontman who wrestles for the life and soul of band mate Sid Vicious in the play Vicious Circles at Fringe World next month.

Written by Ben Kalman and directed by Stefan Cedilot, who have made plays about Led Zeppelin and U2, Vicious Circles comes to Perth from Canada where it was a hit at the Montreal Fringe.

It traverses similar ground to the 1986 biopic Sid and Nancy, about the self-destructive bassist of the seminal punk rockers and his relationship with junkie girlfriend Nancy Spungen.

"It really focuses on Sid and Nancy's relationship as well as the history of the band and the relationship between Sid, Johnny and (Sex Pistols manager) Malcolm McLaren as well," Adamczak says.

Nearly two generations after their brief but influential burst of glory, the chaotic power of the Sex Pistols and the death of Vicious at the age of 21 from a heroin overdose remains a compelling story, he says.

"It is the whole thing about rock stars dying young and friendships being torn apart by the industry, money, greed and drugs."

Splitting his time between Perth and Montreal, where he will be artist-in-residence this year at the independent Mainline Theatre, Adamczak bears more than a passing resemblance to Rotten, aka John Lydon.

"I remember going in for my first audition in Montreal and as soon as I walked in, they all went 'Oh my god, he looks just like him'. I thought 'Well OK, that's going to be slightly helpful'."

The Montreal Gazette said Adamczak "is something else as Rotten. He has the singer's posture and stage moves down pat - when he suddenly starts lip-synching to No Feelings, it's sheer genius".

A 2003 WAAPA graduate, Adamczak is a member of Perth's Weeping Spoon creative team, which is co-producing Vicious Circles to add to such past credits as Greed, Zack Adams: Love Songs for Future Girl, The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik, Trampoline and Bruce.

After taking Vicious Circles on to the Adelaide Fringe, he returns to Montreal to remount three of the five shows in the Zack Adams series and perform a season of Trampoline.

Adamczak also is continuing to develop a planned TV comedy series called Tuckshop with co-writer Jane Raitt.

The one-month fringe means many opportunities to perform and collaborate with a wide network of other artists, take on guest spots in shows and take part in works in development, he says. "It is a really good time for the theatre community."