THIS is a Leeds play, so much so that one of the biggest laughs comes when York is dismissed as “York isn’t Yorkshire. It’s an English theme park for American tourists”.

That said, Alice Nutter’s brash, nuggety northern drama through the generations is not parochial but has universality in its relationships, played out against 40 years of alternative culture.

The one-time squat-dwelling, radical feminist and singing political activist in Chumbabwamba has written a play about squat-dwelling, radical feminism and families with plenty of music, both past and new (by Harry Hamer).

Like that dig at York, Nutter’s in-your-face drama will divide opinion. One woman on Thursday noisily walked out, muttering oaths and maybe thinking that loo in the opening scene was the best place for it – an extreme reaction – but others stood to cheer an incredibly hard-working performance.

It is not an expensive-looking piece – probably most of the design budget has gone on Sweeney Todd next door in the Quarry Theatre – but then again designer Ben Stokes is initially creating a Leeds squat in 1977, where Cath (Kaye Wragg) and Mick (Craig Conway) are bringing up young kids Ben and Emma.

Cath’s story is told in the shadow of the Yorkshire Ripper’s grim reaping, countered by the radical feminism of the kungfu-fighting Frey (Helen Bradbury), who establishes an all-female commune.

This is female empowerment of almost cartoon/Lara Croft proportions, but both Bradbury and writer Nutter know that.

Mick is ostracised, his story picked up in 1984, where again Nutter balances the serious and not-so-serious. On the other hand, she harpoons the show’s most powerful image, a ballet on the Coal Not Dole picket line as policemen rip off their numbers and beat up Mick in slow motion. On the other hand, she lampoons the earnest politico poets of the Red Wedge era and the innate sexism of those who ran clubs at the time.

Ben’s story leaps forward to the rave era of free gigs and Ecstasy in a field in 1992, where he can’t deal with the news of his girlfriend’s pregnancy. Nutter captures this all-too-brief culture with mickey-taking wit yet fondness, yet counters it with the harsh inadequacy of a young man. This is the one story that would be better for being shortened.

Nutter then ties it all together in 2013 in the story of Emma (Bradbury), who has always felt embittered about taking second fiddle to her brother. The pace slows, a mood of reflection takes over, a necessary contrast to all the confrontational energy that has gone before.

It would be wrong to say Nutter is on the side of her female characters, not least because the outstanding Conway plays the most rounded figure, but the other men tend towards caricature. My Generation is a restless, adrenalised rush of a show, drawn together by director Max Webster from its clashing forces of blunt humour and tenderness, belligerence and political passion, sincerity and send-ups.

It is surprisingly old-fashioned agit-prop theatre more akin to the Seventies and Eighties, with its basic set, loud live music and ruddy determination, but it works.

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