To an extent, The Rave Space does what it says on the tin. You walk down the stairs into the dark basement of Camden People’s Theatre, get your hand stamped, take your purple laser, and start raving to the soundtrack as provided by resident DJ, Will Dickie.
Sadly, around half way through this very well-meaning rave-meets-meditation performance, you start to wish Dickie had stuck with the raving and his jungle, drum and bass, playlist. As he introduces moments of spoken word and theatre in the role as a sort of soft-voiced spiritual guide, this hybrid piece of theatre starts to lose its way – and the audience’s attention.
Its intentions are good, don’t get me wrong. Dickie and his two high-vis compères want to explore the different levels of rave culture, and introduce you to people that they have met along the way – for example, their friend Angie who went clubbing every Wednesday – through their own testimonials. The mixing in of these voices is a nice touch, and Dickie does a good job with the technical side of things, but as things progress you start to wonder what the point of it all is?
Are we meant to focus on the quasi-religious nature of clubbing and see the night club as a parallel church, when Dickie drinks holy water and plays a recording of his sister who used to be part of an evangelical church? Maybe.
Or is the message more about drugs and how ecstasy masks the genuine feelings of ecstasis, or “feeling outside of yourself”? A recording of veteran clubber Andy who has never touched drugs and just “vibes off the music” seems to point that way, but when Dickie walks around the basement offering salt to rub into your gums as a cocaine substitute, that line of thought seems to be redundant.
This work suffers from a lack of identity so that you come to dread the moments when the music stops, the lights come up, and they call the “massive” – that’s you – to gather round and listen to the next, narrative-blurring instalment.
The final confusing twist is Dickie stripping down to nothing, writhing around the room, in a brutal encounter with the self. It’s a brave performance, and is an act which jolts you awake. But, while it doesn’t feel gratuitous, and there is a genuine sense of enlightenment for Dickie himself, that doesn’t quite transpose to the audience.
An intriguing concept and ultimately a fun night out, The Rave Space could do with a little more direction and depth to make it more memorable.
The Rave Space is playing Camden People’s Theatre until December 15. For more information and tickets, click here.