Writer: Kieran Hurley
Director: Julia Taudevin
Reviewer: Deborah Klayman
The Public Reviews Rating:
In 1994, amongst other things, the Criminal Justice Act was tweaked in order to effectively ban raves. It became illegal to hold public gatherings around amplified music that was characterised by “the emission of a succession of repetitive beats.”
Exciting, electrifying and powerfully nostalgic, Beats is the story of the 90s underground rave scene in inglorious Livingstone, West Lothian. Walking into the Traverse is more like walking into a club than a theatre space: Johnny Whoop is on the decks and the music is banging, the dry ice is pumping, and there are people dancing in the tech box above. On a screen at the back a range of evocative, psychedelic images merge with the music, and those in the audience old enough to remember are hit with a wave of familiarity. Writer/performer Kieran Hurley takes to the stage, and immediately builds a strong rapport with the audience though shared recollections of Slimfast shakes, Zelda, and walking to phone boxes. The story he tells is simple but its strength is in the details, skilfully performed and shot through with humour. It is also interesting that, in addition to protagonist Jonno, his mum, and sketchy best mate Spanner, Hurley has chosen to portray a police officer’s point of view, giving the piece balance and integrity.
Beats is about angst and apathy, rage and rebellion, so suggests an interesting parallel between the hysteria surrounding young people back then and the disaffected youth of today. With Hurley’s spellbinding storytelling, ably underscored by Whoop’s choice of music and Jamie Wardrop’s live video mixing, this tale of a 15-year-old first rave is a truly immersive one that is enjoyable even after the music stops.
Until 26th August.
Edinburgh Fringe: Beats – Traverse Theatre,