At the end of In Bed With My Brother’s clowning, nostalgic, political rave We Are Ian, one of its performers thanked the audience for coming and confessed that she wasn’t quite sure how they were going to do this show for the entire month. After watching it I understood why.
“a heady, deafening and delirious thrill-ride of a show”
We Are Ian is driven by the prodigious physical and comedic talents of its female trio but, really, there are four people in this show. The company interviewed the eponymous Ian, a friend who grew up in the late 80s and early 90s amidst the bourgeoning Manchester House scene. Ian’s acerbic Mancunian drawl is communicated to the audience by way of a low hung lightbulb, which flashes on and off in time with his speech patterns and which the three performers crowd around with zealous admiration, as though Ian is their God and they are his disciples in the dance. The show promised to take its audience back to the halcyon, dayglow nights of 1989, suggesting that the last time things were as bad as they are today, ‘the world had a party’. On this score, it delivers in spades. I’d be very surprised if any other show at the Fringe leaves you this pumped afterwards and, indeed, it ended with a mass audience stage invasion, and the entire room re-created the raves Ian describes throughout.
The show is also keenly, and often unexpectedly poignant and political. These included moments when the performers express dismay as Ian seems about to break down, telling them of his regrets now that’s he’s old and no longer produces music. He warns of the debt and delirium which awaits these three young women onstage and, by extension, the relatively youthful audience in attendance. Equally, during one marathon dance sequence, the large screen at the back displayed a series of black-and-white clips, cutting between past and present, including a particularly striking juxtaposition of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, walking The White House corridors, with the same image of Theresa May and Donald Trump earlier this year.
I simply cannot recommend We Are Ian highly enough. Not only was it educational in the ways of a music genre about which I knew little and warned of contemporary political turmoil by reminding us of the past, it is a heady, deafening and delirious thrill-ride of a show which grabs you by the throat and never lets go, even at its conclusion.
Pleasance Dome – King Dome, Until 28th August, 22:00
Image: In Bed With My Brother