Addictive Beat – Dilston Gallery, London

Screenwriter: Dawn King

Director: Rob Drummer

This quiet rave story isn’t quite the party the ad promises. The audience is expected to stand for 100 minutes, which would be fine if there was music to dance to, but most of the piece is spoken. And rather than euphoric, Addictive beat is, overall, depressing.

The advertisement also states that the Boundless Theater production will be immersive, but standing does not mean a play is immersive. Taking place at the Dilston Gallery, a converted church in Southwark Park, Addictive beat isn’t even site specific as most of the action takes place in a boy’s crummy studio. It’s a beautiful venue, and its cavernous interior could be compared to a nightclub like the old Limelight club that once took place in a converted church on Shaftesbury Avenue, but if the play was going to be truly immersive, it would take place in a boy’s messy bedroom. .

The boy is Alex, whose name is DJ ALX. With visions of being a top flight DJ, Alex lost his way. He’s been working on music, but hasn’t released any tracks in years. He stays up all night, but always starts over the next day. He’s a perfectionist like Joseph Grand in Camus Plague who seems consigned to writing and rewriting the first and only line of his unfinished novel.

But when he meets old friend Robbi, Alex’s creative spirit is reignited, Robbi is a singer doing well in London, singing covers and songs written for her by other people. However, Alex tells her that she is being manipulated by her manager and that her own songwriting skills are going to be wasted. But if they worked together, maybe they could find a track that would fully showcase their musical talents.

Instead of being filled with soil, what they do is a song so good it acts like a drug. Reaching joyful heights like ecstasy, the music is also dangerously addictive. Robbi fears the company will come to an end if the track is ever released on social media. In this way, Robbi’s concerns are similar to the 1980s media who feared the teenage generation would drop out of work to dance once the Second Summer of Love settled.

It’s an interesting extended metaphor for addiction, but it comes so late in the piece that it almost feels like a spoiler to mention it at all, despite the title of the piece. A good number of scenes could easily be cut without the story losing nuance. The pair argue several times over Robbi’s career, even in the final scenes of the play. Written by Dawn King, whose The tests it went so well at the Donmar, Addictive beat feels a little flabby, like an extended remix that just repeats the bridges without reaching the chorus.

In an exciting cast, Dunkirk’Fionn Whitehead’s lead actor plays Alex, and his DJ is goofy and restless. In the flashing light design, Whitehead has the sickly pallor of a boy who never leaves his room. In contrast, Boadicea Ricketts’ Robbi is full of energy and bounces around the stage which has been erected in the middle of the performance space. But playing in circles brings its own problems because when actors turn their backs to engage with the other side of the audience, their lines very often get lost.

But they work hard in a physical piece that has them dancing – Ira Mandela Siobhan movement – ​​and singing. If only their energy could seep into the audience. The ending is also a bit judgmental and even with the disco finale Addictive beat is a long, long descent.

Until October 7, 2022

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