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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



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