DramaReviewSouth West

We Are Ian – The Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol

Creators:  Kat Cory, Dora Lynn, Nora Alexander
Reviewer: Chris Oldham

Ian is a light bulb, hanging from the ceiling. And the three young women of In Bed With My Brother have come to tell his story. It’s a real life story, told through played-back recordings of interviews with Ian about his experiences in the late 1980s at the end of the Acid House movement. But it’s also quite unlike anything that might have come before.

Performers Kat Cory, Dora Lynn, and Nora Alexander make up the company. Emerging from different corners of the theatre, clad in white dungarees and flashing trainers and looking like they’ve just stepped out of an illegal rave, they dive head first into a mash-up of video, music, clowning, and dance to interpret Ian’s anecdotes. Whether they’re trying to work out what he means by a “brown biscuit”, or seemingly trying to make amends for the fact that their own generation has nothing to get excited about, the three brim with untold energy and stamina as Ian leads us all through a heady landscape of underground parties.

Despite the audio and visual onslaught, this isn’t simply an excuse to perfect your dance routines from back in the day. Although Ian’s favourite house tunes certainly whip up a heavy dose of nostalgia for the delighted audience, there’s much more to see hiding just behind the mayhem. Themes of age, a wasted life, and the emotional and physical toll of partying and fighting at football matches can take on the body, all bubble to the surface of Ian’s psyche at one point or another. He’s a man who lost himself in the music. Perhaps irrevocably. There’s anger too, directed at the government back then, and at the government now; as well as wider political issues affecting the world today.

For a show so focused on the music, the rhythm and pace are destabilised once or twice by one too many dance routines and an over-long montage, but by the time the audience are ordered to fill the stage and join in, you might just be left wondering exactly where a whole hour went, and why in the world the party should ever have to end.

Runs until 4 March 2017 | Image: Contributed

 

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