Happy Dave*** (Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh)

Posted: August 12, 2016 in Theatre

happy-dave-pleasance-courtyard-ed-fringeThis review was originally written for The Reviews Hub: http://www.thereviewshub.com

Happy Dave is contemptuous of today’s youngsters. He complains that earlier generations invented rock, punk and rave, but all we have now is the X-Factor Christmas single. Oli Forsyth’s new play begins in the 1990s when Dave was DJ at massive rave parties in open fields, until the Home Secretary, Michael Howard, brought them to an end. It then fast forwards 20 years to find Dave a model of conformity as an account executive with an advertising agency.

An air of disillusionment hangs over Andy McLeod’s Dave. The oldest by far in his office, his enthusiasm for activities perceived to be exclusively for those half his age is sneered at by colleagues, but, given the chance to dip his toes again in the rave scene, he jumps in at the deep end. For him, it is a drug habit that he cannot kick and returning to it is like going back home.

Dave’s passion, more than mere nostalgia, suggests a hankering for wilder, freer times when the law and health and safety obsessions had a lesser grip on our lives. With his disciples, played by Helen Coles, Kiell Smith-Bynoe, Lucy Hagan-Walker and the writer himself, he sets about organising raves, aided by the new tool of social media. He triggers a cat-and-mouse game with police and takes his chances in the face of career and financial ruin.

Forsyth’s 70 minute play does not yet feel fully formed, perhaps needing a stronger narrative drive to hold it together, but it makes bold and original statements about youth culture and Sam Carrack’s energetic, well acted production makes it shine.

Performance date: 11 August 2016


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