Sunday, 21 May 2017

Music is Torture

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Three stars

Poor Jake. One minute he and his band, Test Card, are the in sound of 1998, the next he's playing a shaker on a Belle and Sebastian B-side and doing a dog food commercial. For the last fifteen years he's been stuck in the Sisyphean hell of his similarly past-its-sell-by-date recording studio, working on an endlessly unfinished album by a band called Dawnings, who are stuck in a sound booth repeating themselves ad nauseum. When Jake's waster hanger-on Nick uploads a long-lost slice of brain-pummelling techno called Kill Them All, Jake looks set to make the big time for all the wrong reasons.

Louise Quinn's knowing piece of gig theatre puts a novel twist on an all too familiar rock and roll take on Faustian self-destruction. In Quinn's world, brought to claustrophobic life in Ben Harrison's increasingly fantastical production, it isn't the star chasing band who sell their souls to the devil, but the lowly sound engineer looking for a break and a new pair of trainers.

The play is inspired by the research of musicologist and human rights campaigner Dr Morag J Grant, and co-produced by Quinn's Tromolo company and the Tron. Its lurch into darker waters is brought to life by Andy Clark playing an increasingly desperate Jake and Harry Ward as a deceptively hopeless Nick. Quinn's own group, A Band Called Quinn, play the fictional Dawnings as a Greek chorus illustrating Jake's moral dilemma with live velveteen guitar pop. It's this insider's world-view of an industry where selling out is the ultimate sin that gives the play its cynical bite, even as it bleeds its players dry.

The Herald, May 21 2017

ends

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