Beats North is a double bill of one-man plays about growing up in the north east and how music helps/hinders that journey.
The characters Jack (played by Tom Booth) and Al (played by Afnan Prince) are assisted by DJ Mariam Rezaei as ‘musical puppeteer’; their performances are fun, energetic and full of light and shade. Both plays address teenage angst and other people’s expectations as two boys from different backgrounds explore their musical tastes and try to figure out the meaning of life, or at least how to get a girlfriend.
The first play, by Luke Barnes, is about 14-year-old Jack who has a doll that understands him and a father who doesn’t. Father and son disagree over music choices but agree it defines and inspires them. The live-mixed soundtrack provides scenery for the ears, and the imagery of Jack being beaten up at school made me believe he’d have bruises.
In the second play, written by Ishy Din, parental disappointment also looms large. Al’s pursuit of his guitar-playing dreams includes attempting to learn that riff from Smoke on the water, while trying to respect his Pakistani family’s aspirations for him.
Loads of great music is brilliantly timed throughout to evoke emotions, which is exactly what music does best.