Photo credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

Photo credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

Photo credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

Photo credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

Photo credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

Music Is Torture

Tron Theatre, Traverse Theatre, Eden Court Theatre

May-June 2017

Jake, a struggling producer who has spent fifteen years recording the same album with Dawnings, is imprisoned in his music studio, as his bills mount and he is eventually evicted from his flat. His best ‘friend’ and torturer Nick, a sofa-bound joint-smoking philosopher, advises Jake on what to do about his ethical dilemma: take the money and forget the ethics, or stay honourable and continue his life of penury.

Beautifully performed by Andy Clark as Jake and Harry Ward as Nick, with stunning and ethereal live music by A Band Called Quinn led by Louise Quinn and Harry Ward.

The production played the Tron in Glasgow, Traverse in Edinburgh and Eden Court in Inverness, May-June 2017

Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman

…completely alluring, from Andy Clark’s superb performance as Jake, through the gentle, incisive quality of Quinn’s dialogue, to some truly mind-blowing video, lighting and sound design by Tim Reid, Kate Bonney and Bal Cooke. The music is sweet, witty and often powerful. And Ben Harrison directs with real artistry, in a show which – particularly through Harry Ward’s fine performance as Nick – makes us feel in its very body-language how the system comes for us all.

Thom Dibdin, The Stage

Creative ennui has seldom been so acutely rendered as here, with two superb central performances, an inspired miming segment from trumpet player Robert Henderson, and the whole production fizzes with energy and dense ideas. Trenchant, funny and chilling, without ever being polemical.

Erin Roche,

at once both beautiful and nauseating labyrinth of theatrical multimedia collaboration. Emily James’ perfectly realised back room recording studio boasts small details that give Jake’s world real dimensions…dedication to nuance is seen in every thread of the show from the actors’ character choices, such as Nick exiting in military style, to the music, particularly in Dawnings’ lyrics and in the trumpet player’s sound-checking with tone-setting musical phrases. The marriage of video, light, and sound design by Tim Reid, Kate Bonney, and Bal Cooke is truly where this piece goes to the next level. Watching Ben Harrison-directed Music Is Torture as a musician is like listening to an album that is eerily relatable. Watching Music Is Torture and its arresting Guantanamo Bay images, especially as an American, is jarring, horrifying, productive, important.

Neil Cooper, The Herald

In Quinn’s world, brought to claustrophobic life in Ben Harrison’s increasingly fantastical production, it isn’t the star chasing band who sell their souls to the devil, but the lowly sound engineer looking for a break and a new pair of trainers. The play is inspired by the research of musicologist and human rights campaigner Dr Morag J Grant. Its lurch into darker waters is brought to life by Andy Clark playing an increasingly desperate Jake and Harry Ward as a deceptively hopeless Nick. Quinn’s own group, A Band Called Quinn, play the fictional Dawnings as a Greek chorus illustrating Jake’s moral dilemma with live velveteen guitar pop. It’s this insider’s world-view of an industry where selling out is the ultimate sin that gives the play its cynical bite, even as it bleeds its players dry.