Pop Music – Latitude, Theatre Arena

Writer: Anna Jordan

Director: James Grieve

Reviewer: Kris Hallett

The Paines Plough gig theatre slot has become a little bit of a Latitude tradition. A hot new playwright writing an hour piece to a soundtrack that gets the crowds at Henham Park off their chairs and into the groove. Previously they have presented Sabrina Mahfouz’sWith A Little Bit Of Luck and Kate Tempest’s Wasted, but Bruntwood prize winner Anna Jordan’s Pop Music may be my favourite so far.

The wedding dance floor is the place for true lovers and broken-hearted alike. When G and Kayla come face to face on the dance floor, years of disappointment, pain, hopes and dreams are shared and shattered as Double D Danny spins the discs from his decks. Music is the signpost of life, reminding us of the good times and bad. We live for music. We disappear in it. It’s the soundtrack to a summer, it’s the accompaniment for our grief.

As these two souls connect to a soundtrack of Britney and Beyonce, A-Ha and Whigfield, two characters embark on a journey of discovery that will be familiar to anyone who has ever lived and loved on the dancefloor. Kayla was the popular girl at school with dreams of being someone and now desperately clawing away at her realisation that her life is insignificant. G is back to his drab hometown from the big smoke and facing headfirst his schoolboy demons.

Rakesh Boury and Katherine Kotz inhabit these roles beautifully. The dancefloor is their addiction, music the escape from life. Listening to MJ, dancing to the Spice Girls, to them this is life. It’s only in the terrifying sound of silence that their demons must be faced.

Dominic Kennedy’s sound design threads the tunes through the action, Jordan laces the poetry through the tunes. Director James Grieve keeps the staging simple, two mics facing front and the performers moving between them, the dancefloor and an understanding. Access is key this year and Grieve threads an interpreter into the action with skillful precision. Ciaran Alexander Stewart is a part of, and an observer of what is going on, a one-man Greek chorus in Double D’s last chance saloon. It is a thrilling realisation of what the future for signing is in the theatre, a fully realised piece of the action that enhances the piece for access and non-access needs alike.

And as Come On Eileen comes on over the speakers and it’s time to go home, the lights come up and the music softens, the magic of the last hour seems but a dream and we wait until the next time to disappear into the magic of pop again. It’s touring the UK come September. Go.

Reviewed on July 13th at Latitude and touring in September 2018.

Image: Rebecca Need Menear and Thread Design

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