Edinburgh review: Beats

Written for The Stage

On the face of it, Kieran Hurley’s Beats is a coming of age story set at the end of the rave scene. But listen through the trance and techno, and you’ll hear timeless political questions about our right to meet communally and protest.

Hurley sits in front of a shabby table while around him swirl the psychedelic visuals and rave beats of the 1990s. He tells the story of 15 year-old Johno going to his first rave, his anxious mother and Robert, a policeman and unwitting member of the establishment.

In this post-industrial town, these are ideologically broken times and dancing together is a means of escape. But the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act has made it illegal for people to gather to hear “a succession of repetitive beats”. As Hurley jumps forward to the 2010 student protests, an overarching question hangs in the air – if we don’t have the freedom to gather together, what have we got?

Jamie Wardrop’s acidic projections and Johnny Whoop’s techno soundscape and circling lights place us right in the action. At the table, Hurley is the white-hot centre. With searing focus, he passionately invokes these intricately drawn characters, whose small story asks huge questions about community and democracy.

To follow Kieran Hurley go here.

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