Rave Generation

Tue 20th – Mon 26th August 2013


Hannah Greenstreet

at 03:08 on 22nd Aug 2013



I don’t know what the creators of ‘Rave Generation’ were on when they decided that a thirty-minute play set in a primary school classroom about MDMA would be a good idea. Yet one would expect that a play written about drugs would be more entertaining than this banal musing on the issue, with an added, gratuitous laser light show.

The plot is ridiculous (but none of the jokes are funny, particularly the opening gambit about confusing a CRB check with an STI check): the main character, James, a recreational drug user and raver, runs a dance class for four to six year olds; one of the parents complains that he is thereby encouraging drug culture, so he imprisons two parents and the headmistress in a classroom and drugs them. They are so enamoured with the experience that they become friends and rave together frequently.

Party scenes are difficult to stage well, as there is a danger that the actors will have more fun than the audience. However, even the actors in ‘Rave Generation’ do not appear to be having a good time, as they convulse in spasmodic “raving”. In the absence of proper choreography, the dances are embarrassing and messy. The strobe and laser lighting also feels like a wasted opportunity; it is not embedded within the production but tacked on the end, leaving the audience to sit through five minutes of coloured lights, wondering whether or not to leave. It doesn't start an impromptu rave, this if further not helped by the pre-show warning that we should stay in our seats because of the use of lasers.

Now to get on to the ‘message’ of the production, which I can only assume was to be found in the trite apothegms of the drug-induced rambling of the characters. I do not dislike this play because I disagree with its message (although I do disagree) but because it fails to engage with the issue in a thought-provoking or intelligent way. James sometimes trots out quotes from the infamous report by David Nut, which claimed that horse-riding was more dangerous than MDMA, but the writing fails to interrogate either side of the argument. Verbatim theatre might have been a better way to approach it; instead we have a piece hypocritically and didactically insisting that we experience drugs for ourselves when the actors obviously haven’t. 'Rave Generation' is a trip gone badly wrong.


Marnie Langeroodi

at 10:53 on 22nd Aug 2013



Wake up and smell the coffee! (or Marijuana). This play tells you what to think rather than convincing you of its point. MDMA has been successfully used in psychotherapy, and, along with marijuana and LSD, is less harmful than alcohol (according to the opening voice-over).

The play proceeds to showcase a few schoolteachers getting wasted. Their adventure isn’t inspiring and there isn’t a storyline as such, they simply have a good time. So what?

I appreciated some of the techniques used in the production: freeze-frame, fast-forward, great music, and interesting lighting, which penetrated through the audience, bringing the on-stage rave into the crowd.

This performance was only 35 minutes long – only one act of a three-act play. When the time was up, the audience were unsure that it had in fact ended and hesitated to applaud. After this apparent finish, a strobe-light display continued for a while, which was strange. Perhaps this was giving time to allow the experience to wash over us? Hmm.

The actors were competent. Simon was particularly funny. However, the portrayal of the head teacher didn’t seem to fit in with the realistic style of the rest of the play. Instead she presented a farcical archetype of comedy.

‘Rave Generation’ has an overt political agenda – the legalisation of illegal drugs – and makes some good points. The audience is told that they have been misinformed and subjected to scare-tactics. I wish this had been put across though a storyline that would stay with the audience after the play, but there was no such plot. I assume that a full play would be more successful.

As it stands, the play managed to raise questions: are we wrong about illegal substances? Is there a play for MDMA in society? But the questions are simply raised, not answered either way.

I think the issue is significant and has a lot of potential to be expressed in an effective story. In this case, the script doesn’t do it justice. I encourage the cast and production team to continue in their efforts, but work on the story!


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