Beats @ The Arches
Entering a dry-ice filled room to the strains of The Orb’s Little Fluffy Clouds, it is clear we are in safe hands.
Platform 18 winner Kieran Hurley ‘s heartwarming monologue with tunes by resident Arches DJ Johnny Whoop was a great success as work in progress last year at Arches Live! Fleshed out as a full hour-long show, it is a triumph.
Using projected images; grey endless motorways contrasting with rave fractals and a pumping techno soundtrack, this is a thoughtful funny piece with Hurley’s multi-narrative journey through the mid-90s rave scene building in layers like a floor-filler.
Wide-eyed and earnest, Hurley is Jonno McCreid, fifteen with a face which is “a canvas of plooks” desperate to escape the prison cell of his bedroom where he’s spent the best part of three years playing Zelda on his computer. A raised eyebrow, and he’s Spanner, the slack-jawed, inarticulate best friend of Jonno, on account of being two years older.
Peripheral characters anxious Alison, Jonno’s mum and jaded policeman Robert Dunlop are just as crucial to the story as figures of authority, older but not necessarily any the wiser for that. When Jonno attends his first rave and takes his first E, it’s not only a battle of youth versus adults, but underground versus mainstream culture. Hurley’s writing is excellent - wise and tender, he captures what it is to be young, frustrated and seeking something outside your grasp, as well as the small-town parochialism: “Motherwell,” Dunlop quips, ”where even the rain can’t be bothered...”
Beats is a poignant reminder of when music represented something subversive - not just a Madonna wannabe in a meat dress.