Very few people can justifiably claim to have invented a new theatrical genre but, with this fascinating fusion of mixed media, Kieran Hurley might well be able to do just that.
Beats is on one level a cautionary tale about the threat of raves and drugs to the morals of the young. However, in telling the tale through performance poetry accompanied by an onstage DJ Johnny Whoop playing loud club sounds throughout the 70 minutes plus a psychedelic sequence of filmed and computer generated images from VJ Jamie Wardrop, it becomes something really special.
That has already been recognised with the award of Best New Play at the Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland earlier this year.
The underlying writing might not quite make it to that level but can still be almost as intoxicating as the subject matter.
It focusses on 15-year-old Johnny Macready, an ordinary Livingston lad in 1994 being brought up by a well-meaning single mother who is struggling to cope.
Johnny is in awe of his older friend Spanner, 17 already, and cannot resist an invitation to a rave. Deserting poor mum without explanation, he heads off to a rave and, aided by an E, has a pretty good time.
His tale is told in parallel with that of a policeman, Robert who has never escaped a clingy father, even though he is now 41.
The pair come into violent conflict that will probably impact on both of their lives for a long time to come.
Reviewer: Philip Fisher