Believe it or not but there was a time when (at least on the surface) ‘rave’ music (characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats) and its attendant politically charged culture was deemed transgressive and containing the power to amass a collective all under a fugue of drugs and communality.

However, what goes up must come down and anything that unites needs containing and the prevailing order -Margaret Thatcher’s ‘(un)Caring Conservatism’ - did just that finally succeeding in the implementation of the Criminal Justice Act in 1994.

Kathryn Gardener’s (who also stars as Rebecca) Repetitive Beats (part of the Vaults Festival) is the story of the period after the ‘Second Summer of Love’ (1989) taking in five years of heady hedonism via the highs and lows of four friends. Their intertwining lives veer from shared bliss to heavy comedowns once the euphoria wears off. Reality bites hard causing relationships to be tested and fractured with revelations in relations and state sanctioned subterfuge and sedition all in the mix.

This spirit of fearlessness and lawlessness, freedom of both spirit and terrain ultimately resulted in systematic clampdown, insurgency and urgency neutered to be replaced by staid and safe sounds. (The nostalgia-fuelled retroactive laddish sounds of Britpop soon followed, sound systems replaced by system sounds). Crucially, the parties moved indoors as ‘super’ clubs’ became the dominant hub of leisure pleasure before the millennium saw outdoor festivals become corporate behemoths; the revolution has been commodified.

The four characters (Amy Ambrose as Leah is excellent) act as ciphers for how individual priorities change, life’s paths splitting and diverging, where some want to move on and seek betterment (education) others remain stuck in a rut and end up in prison.

The story hints at the transcendent qualities inherent in drug/dance culture and articulates the contrasting actions and behaviour between being ‘loved up’ and ‘boozed up’: drugs and huggery as opposed to ale and thuggery.

Ultimately though, this x missed the spot, the rush never arriving. The political edge predominantly of the personal kind, but, I’d argue that an extended (12” remix) would enhance its message.
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