Music is Torture ****
Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Until, that is, the night when his streetwise friend Nick gets him and the band shouting along to a few artificially generated beats – they’re yelling “Kill Them All”, the slogan of Jake’s old band – and likes what he hears. In no time, Kill Them All is going viral on the internet; and then Jake receives a lawyer’s letter saying that the track is being used for “enhanced interrogation” – ie. torture – by the US security forces, and that there might be some royalty money in it.
This is the set-up for Louise Quinn’s intriguing new drama for her band’s own Tromolo Productions, presented as part of the Tron Theatre’s Mayfesto exploration of theatre and music; and it has to be said that it takes an absurd amount of time – almost two thirds of its 75 minutes – to reach the point where the letter arrives, and the story really begins. The result is a rushed conclusion, and an underwritten exploration of Jake’s gradual recognition of the moral dilemma he faces.
Everything else about the show, though, is completely alluring, from Andy Clark’s superb performance as Jake, through the gentle, incisive quality of Quinn’s dialogue, to some truly mind-blowing video, lighting and sound design by Tim Reid, Kate Bonney and Bal Cooke. The music is sweet, witty and often powerful. And Ben Harrison directs with real artistry, in a show which – particularly through Harry Ward’s fine performance as Nick – makes us feel in its very body-language how the system comes for us all; whether it’s standing over us at Guantanamo threatening more waterboarding, or forcing us to sign a dodgy contract out of sheer financial desperation, or just demanding that we bare our souls on the internet, on the off-chance of redemption by celebrity, when all else has failed.
*Music Is Torture is at Eden Court Theatre, Inverness, 1 June.