WE ARE IAN: Review – Thursday October 4th 2018, by In Bed With My Brother, The Other Room @ Porter’s Cardiff

A sweaty and joyous celebration of the rave generation through the eyes of those too young to have experienced it.

★★★★☆

Much like the cast of WE ARE IAN, I wasn’t even alive in the second summer of love. In 1989 I wasn’t even a twinkle in my father’s eye, let alone a rebellious youth with a pair of DJ decks and a dream of having a party. Created by theatre company In Bed With My Brother, this hour long piece is part rave and part exploration of the youth culture phenomenon that hit the UK in the late 1980’s.

Set to a pounding mix of dance music and acid house, performers Dora Lynn, Kay Cory and Nora Alexander explode on to The Other Room stage. Dressed in white overalls and with space buns in their hair and fantastic light up shoes, they find themselves transported back 29 years to a rave. There, the three of them quickly discover the magical fuel source that powered the rave generation – ecstasy and pills. Known colloquially as brown biscuits (and here presented to the audience as literal biscuits) these help the trio unleash their animalistic side as they loose themselves completely in the music.

Using multi-media projections behind them ranging from shots of Margaret Thatcher dancing with Ronald Reagan, to hooligans at football matches, to shots of Theresa May and Boris Johnson, WE ARE IAN draws parallels between the political and social situation in ’89 under a callous Conservative government with today. What is less clear is what the message behind this is. Are the trio arguing that due to the similarities in context that we should have a similarly rebellious youth movement, or suggesting that there is one simmering away on social media, or bemoaning the fact that there hasn’t been a similar movement since?

Focusing on choreographed dance and non vocal storytelling, WE ARE IAN relies heavily on movement to tell a narrative. The actors barely speak, instead relying on exaggerated physicality and grunting noises to convey story. This is also intersected with snippets of interview with the titular Ian, who guides the girls through the immense highs and the incredible lows of the scene. While this is a clever way to create a narrative thread through the show, it does have its limitations. It is never clear precisely what the shows message is to it’s audience. Are we being warned against the superficial hedonism of the rave generation and being told to grow up, or being told to cut loose and enjoy ourselves?

Occasionally the show labors it’s points. Scenes where the trio initially discover drugs are hilarious and excellently choreographed, but linger a little too long on stage. At other points it seems like the company want to make a bold political point or statement, yet within the confines of the theatrical conventions they have chosen to use they sometimes struggle to do so. What the show doesn’t lack is energy. Dora Lynn, Kay Cory and Nora Alexander are phenomenally energetic, their choreography and characterization is spot on and their energy infection. While previous The Other Room shows have been very earnest and serious, asking deep and meaningful question or presenting serious subjects, WE ARE IAN is a joyously high tempo romp through rave culture which is sure to leave the audience with a smile on its face.

 

WE ARE IAN  is running at The Other Room Theatre until 6th October 2018. For more information and tickets click here

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