Clare Sinclair reviews this year's winners of the coveted Arches/Traverse directing award.
Set in the early 1990s Kieran Hurley’s Beats is a tale full of the grim yet euphoric reality of the rave culture as it was being stamped out by the Criminal Justice Act of 1994. The Platform 18 winner teams up with Resident Arches DJ Johnny Whoop to bring the rave subculture to the theatre.
Through monologue Hurley convincingly portrays all the main characters, from the 15-year-old boy taken to the rave through to the police officer readying to perform a bust on the illegal gathering. In the background, Johnny Whoop mixes a live soundtrack to tie the storylines together.
Walking into the Arches studio space, the techno music blaring as the audience take their seats, it is clear that Hurley’s piece aims to transport us to same place his characters live. Home to some of Glasgow’s biggest club nights, the acoustics of the Arches suits the musical backdrop and it’s clear from the energy of the audience that they’re welcoming the change from tradition.
Although the performance space is bare apart from the DJ decks, and a desk at which Hurley remains throughout, he has an undeniable talent for taking the audience on a journey – helped by live video editing from Jamie Wardrop. Beats is more than a story of a boy going to his first rave. It signals a coming-of-age, and the desperate fight of a generation to rebel against the Criminal Justice Act.
Gary Gardiner’s Thatcher’s Children promises to celebrate the life of Margaret Thatcher, and how she has formed the culture and society we find ourselves in today.
Performed and devised by Kirsty Byers, Thomas Hobbins, Lucy Gaizely and Gardiner himself, this highly physical piece takes a sardonic look at Thatcher’s legacy as leader and role model. Opening with all four cast members in rubber Thatcher masks, clutching onto Mr Whippy ice cream cones, the piece starts relatively light heartedly. The audience – set as though sitting in their own miniature House of Commons – look across the performance area as Rachel O’Neill’s design has television sets and projections at either end of the room showing footage of the former Prime Minister herself, and public reaction to her term in office.
Unsurprisingly, the video compiled of Glasgow shoppers’ thoughts of Thatcher is less than complimentary – and provides some of the bigger laughs of the piece as the Scots characteristically don’t hold back their vitriol for the Iron Lady.
At first glance, Thatcher’s Children doesn’t seem like the type of piece to illicit much comedy, but through its farcical nature almost struggles to bring enough seriousness into the piece. The latter half of the performance – where the truth about Thatcher’s legacy for her ‘children’ becomes apparent--is harder hitting, and more of this would have strengthened the message.
However, what remains clear is how Thatcher’s policies paved the way for the individualistic society we find ourselves in.