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Addictive Beat

Addictive Beat

★★★★

Dilston Gallery

ADDICTIVE BEAT at the Dilston Gallery

★★★★

 

Addictive Beat

“Whitehead and Ricketts give startlingly natural performances throughout this part gig, part theatre, immersive presentation”

 

It is often heard that “music is a drug”. The response is often sceptical. Nevertheless, neurologists have discovered for some time now that the human response to music involves dopamine, the same chemical in the brain that is associated with the intense pleasure people get from more tangible rewards such as addictive drugs. This has existed for thousands of years, across cultures around the world. We have obviously evolved to enjoy music. Possibly even need it.

‘Boundless Theatre’ have taken this theory to the extreme for their ninety-minute play, “Addictive Beat”, in which the two protagonists – Alex and Robbi – create a dangerous, narcotically powerful piece of music. With echoes of Frankenstein’s Monster, the effects escape the control of the creators, leaving them no choice but to destroy their own creation.

It begins more innocently, however. Alex (Fionn Whitehead) and Robbi (Boadicea Ricketts) are best friends. They share a love of music but are wired differently, so sparks fly when their exposed impulses get too close to each other. A long drawn-out scene, played out to the rhythms of electronic dance music, explains these differences. The upshot is that neither has managed to stay true to their creative impulses. Whitehead and Ricketts give startlingly natural performances throughout this part gig, part theatre, immersive presentation. Their boundless energy draws us in. We thought we were in for a rave, but the experience is much more subtle and gratifying.

Rob Drummer’s stylish and stylised direction highlights the polarisation between Robbi’s singer/songwriter, soulful sentiments, and DJ Alex’s formulaic but tortured yearning to shun commercialism for the elusive ‘secret chord’. The rift ultimately leads to reconciliation and then collaboration. Fusing their respective skills, the binaural beast is born. As the two gyrate chaotically together in an almost sexual dance, the eponymous ‘addictive beat’ is the offspring. Dawn King’s script mixes metaphor with sharp realism, but the message becomes a bit muddled. It is plain that the healing powers of music are being celebrated, but it is difficult to reconcile that with the latent destructive powers that King is hinting at.

International Bass DJ, Anikdote, provides the musical score; perfectly encapsulating the mood of the piece. Although it could be said that the play is the thing that encapsulates the music. Whitehead and Ricketts seem to have an innate affinity to the material that gives real credence to the highs and lows of their character arcs. And when Robbi is allowed to shine (sadly not frequently enough) as the singer she really aspires to be, we can savour the beauty of Ricketts’ vocals.

Nobody needs science to explain why music has become such an integral part of humanity, but neurologists have put a lot of time and energy into trying to prove the evolutionary necessity of music in our lives. “Addictive Beat” uses analogy to show briefly the darker side of this necessity. It borders on alarmist. We don’t quite buy it, but it does make you think. And ultimately the show’s positivity and passion save the day in the closing moments of its uplifting finale.

 

 

Reviewed on 23rd September 2022

by Dawn King

Photography by Harry Elletson

 

 

 

Other recent reviews:

 

Playtime | ★★★★ | Royal & Derngate | September 2022
Doctor Faustus | ★★★★★ | Southwark Playhouse | September 2022
Love All | ★★★★ | Jermyn Street Theatre | September 2022
The P Word | ★★★ | Bush Theatre | September 2022
The Prince | ★★★ | Southwark Playhouse | September 2022
The Drought | ★★★ | King’s Head Theatre | September 2022

 

Click here to read all our latest reviews

 

The Drought

The Drought

★★★

King’s Head Theatre

THE DROUGHT at the King’s Head Theatre

★★★

 

The Drought

“There’s enough that’s excellent to know that she could make this genuinely spine-chilling”

 

Writer Nina Atesh has come upon a beautiful, terrifying idea: What if the sea simply disappeared one day, drying out like a small puddle, stranding all its aquatic societies, fish and sailor alike. It captures the imagination with both the arid aesthetic of the dried-out sea, and the practical horror of being completely stranded in the middle of nowhere with no fresh water to be found. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite come to fruition.

There’s definitely a growing sense of dread throughout, but it seems misdirected: The two last crew members on board this particular ship- the captain (Andrew Callaghan) and his loyal steward, Garson (Jack Flammiger) – busy themselves with pointless naval tasks, playing out some sense of normality, until they’re interrupted by a mysterious stranger (Caleb O’Brien), claiming to be a stranded whaler, in need only of food and water. But his motives become suspect as he tries to manipulate and turn the captain and steward against one another. The reason isn’t entirely clear- he seems to desperately want the captain’s much prized jar of sea water- but the menace he poses doesn’t seem to add up to the apparent goal.

Julia Sullivan’s set is appropriately sparse, a platform serving as Captain’s desk, topped with only a ledger, a lamp, and the precious sea water. Sullivan’s costumes have a little more flare, mirroring the bizarre contrast between the bleak, lonely circumstances, and the captain’s refusal to give up his naval rituals: Garson is smartly attired in a striped blue collarless shirt, always tucked in, and similarly the captain is never without his naval jacket, scattered with what looks like glittering, gold seaweed, a sign of his eternal pledge to life at sea.

The performances are strong on the whole, though the script seems to let O’Brien down a bit; the uncertainty of his character’s purpose seeps into his performance. Callaghan is jarringly spectacular, a massive fish in a small pond (pun intended). His eyes bulge with exhaustion, and his false jocularity is maybe the scariest part of the show.

If Atesh were to rewrite this and come back to the stage with the exact same cast and crew, I would absolutely come to see it. There’s enough that’s excellent to know that she could make this genuinely spine-chilling if she were willing to kill her darlings and rework the plot.

 

 

Reviewed on 20th September 2022

by Miriam Sallon

Photography courtesy Pither Productions

 

 

 

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:

 

Beowulf: An Epic Panto | ★★★★ | November 2021
Freud’s Last Session | ★★★★ | January 2022
La Bohème | ★★★½ | May 2022
Brawn | ★★ | August 2022

 

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