TOOT: Be Here Now

Reviewer's Rating

Shoreditch Town Hall in the heart of Hoxton is the venue for this charming, chaotic and inconsequential piece of performance theatre. Described by its creators as “about music”, the piece talks about how the music of our teenage years can create and recall moods and memories of excitement and happiness, of embarrassment and sadness. It focuses on the pop music of the 90s – which clearly did not speak to all members of the audience though most at the performance seemed to recognise the key songs.

The shape of the piece is episodic and the performers cleverly draw the audience into participation in the action. As we arrive, we are asked to write down on a piece of paper the name of a song that is important to us and the performers use this information in a number of ways during the show. At one stage we are asked to play the partygoers in a scene where the trio re-enact a party where one of them tries to “get off” with an object of his teenage desire. It all ends in embarrassment but that seemed to ring bells with most of the mostly young audience. At another point we are all asked to video on our mobile phones a ‘bride and groom’s first dance’ at a wedding – and then to play it back at a later stage of the performance when the wife is thinking about straying.

The three performers all have their strengths – Clare Dunn is particularly adept at using body language to re-enforce some of the messages about the torments of teenage rights of passage. But the performances are not conventionally theatrical in any sense and rely on gaining the affection of the audience rather than on dramatic power.

The space is a room upstairs in Shoreditch Town Hall. It’s a very institutional setting and not one that fosters the sort of relationship between performers and audience that the creators seem to be aiming for – except that the space is small and the action takes place amongst and around us. The seats are cramped and uncomfortable and the set and the scenery are rudimentary.

This is a show to see for the charm of the performances and the nostalgia that comes from revisiting those moments of torment and ecstasy that afflict every teenager. The music that is the linking theme of the show will not appeal to every ear but the inventiveness of the staging just about carries the day.