Jay has inherited a love of dance music from her brother, Riley – it’s her great obsession, researching and imagining the raves of the 1990s, burning CDs and using her brother’s decks when he’s not around. However, due to her degenerative hearing loss, she is forced to develop a new relationship with the music she loves.
It’s a high energy performance: Lois Baglin as Jay and Morgan Beale as Riley are constantly on the move with tightly-choreographed moves appropriate to the genres playing, while Baglin in particular continues to deliver her monologues. Subtitles are on screen throughout, and they also keep us informed about what is playing and the genre it represents. The screen is also used for some cute animation, and hilarious clips of older people discussing this terribly dangerous form of music.
There is some smart use of language in writer/director Jonny Khan’s script as words like ‘hear’ and ‘listen’ are replaced with ‘feel’ as Jay’s hearing goes, and there are tender descriptions of the beauty in everyday sounds like rainfall that Jay only hears for the first time when she gets hearing aids, but then loses again.
However, other opportunities are missed. On a couple of occasions there is distortion in the music as Jay has problems with her hearing aids, but as she describes her gradual hearing loss the music cuts instantly to silence – this deprives us of a more thorough understanding of Jay’s experience, though Baglin’s performance is still moving.
The story is told in a straightforwardly chronological manner, so its trajectory is fairly obvious from the start and there is little sense of drama. The bulk of the play consists of a joyous, if well-mannered, exploration of the music Jay and Riley are in love with, so Jay’s reconnection with her passion feels a little rushed at the end. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t resonate: this is a show with siblings full of love, both for the music they have in common and for each other.