We Are Ian at The Other Room takes us back to 1989. In Manchester. I say takes ‘us’ back, for me it’s the repercussions. For the majority of the audience to which We Are Ian appeals, I appreciate it’s how Strawberry Fields Forever felt to me. But having recently turned on BBC morning news to find Grange Hill celebrates its 40th birthday this year, remembering too clearly the impact of the Just Say No campaign, my thoughts on We Are Ian run far too deep.
We Are Ian gives In Bed With My Brother the chance to tell someone else’s story. The story of someone born before their time. Ok, I’m officially old. We Are Ian is Manchester’s story- the story which gives the city its story of technicolour, of drugs, raves, and its own form of anarchy.
We Are Ian is clever. Through Dora Lynn, Kay Cory and Nora Alexander it is possible to feel exhausted as we are introduced to their party. A party which involves them getting their hit. With the backdrop of a soundtrack underpinning Manchester in the late 80s and early 90s we are introduced to Ian’s life.
The set is simple. Black. Ian is the light. When the light is bright, Ian’s voice fills the space, offering perspective, recalling life. Conversely the three performers wear white overalls, space buns, light up shoes. The three fill the space having discovered the magic of Brown Biscuits, the colloquial term which underpinned the ecstasy and pills of this era. As the three take this term into the literal, enjoying brown biscuits and sharing with the audience, so the reality of the time is offered. And in offering the reality of the past, the parallels of the current are drawn.
Through the simple acts of the Hot Potato and the Waterfall Fingers, the energy is created. The beauty of the piece is to appreciate all that can be created through the physical. The three performances barely utter a word, this is a performance of facial expression and movement. As the biscuits become the priority so everything changes. There is frenetic energy, contagious dance, rebellion. Politics plays its part.
And there is the odd conclusion. Where do you stand? Of halcyon days? Appreciating that today’s politics potentially replays those of years gone by? Do we learn from the past?
This is where my brain frazzled? To eat the brown biscuit. Ignoring all lessons of the past. Repeating them for fear of responding to the present.
We Are Ian offers a fun parallel to today’s world. Keenly reflecting Manchester’s halcyon days. Appreciating the impact of the brown biscuit on someone’s life.
But with all the benefits of learning from the past, the conclusion felt more challenging. For all that we learn of politics and of well-being should following the crowd, accepting the situation be a part of our present?
We Are Ian is more thought-provoking than the immediate response to this fun-filled production presents. Whether a cry for resistance or a an overwhelming need to party, three dynamic performers do not fail to exhaust in body and mind.
We Are Ian is part for The Other Room’s Autumn/ Winter season. Information and tickets are available via the website.
Disclosure: We were invited to review We Are Ian for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.
We Are Ian at The Other Room