Review: We Are Ian

More club night than theatre, this ode to Manchester’s rave scene of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s is a strange immersive experience that features acid house, a lot of dancing and a few hugs thrown in for good measure.

I know things will be different the moment I join the queue. Punters are asking friends if they are up for a dance and revving each other up like we are waiting to get into a club, not a theatre show. The pounding acid house that peppers Gluttony’s Parasol Lounge confirms that this is the closest theatre will get to replicating Manchester’s famed club The Hacienda, the spiritual home of the Madchester scene.

Three 20-something women in white overalls move onto the stage to the sounds of Frankie Knuckles’ house classic Your Love. With their ‘faces of e’ looks going strong, the performers  are attracted to a naked lightbulb like moths on ecstasy. The lightbulb features the voice of Ian, a friend of the trio who was a DJ and producer and, by the sounds of it, a local legend. Ian guides the girls through the highs and lows of their own summer of love that is soundtracked by the house, techno and indie dance heard during England’s famed illegal raves.

The music selection is spot on as classics from Mr Fingers and the Happy Mondays lend authenticity to the immersive piece by the theatre troupe In Bed with my Brother. The trio encourages the audience to dance with them and even give out some rave hugs. Bless.

We Are Ian captures the spirit of raving, as raving wasn’t just about getting ‘wankered’; it was about the music, the togetherness and rebelling against austerity and anti-rave laws.

But, nostalgia trip aside, what is the point of We Are Ian? I’m still unsure of what I experienced.  An absurdist dig at the previous generation’s rave culture? A comment on this generation’s lack of a counterculture movement? Whatever the case, I think I need a few days to recover from this puzzling rave down memory lane.

We Are Ian continues at Gluttony’s Parasol Lounge until Sunday, March 18

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