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This is a review of a previous run of this production, at the Vault Festival in 2017. We re-publish carefully selected reviews which we believe still offer an informative perspective. Find out more.

Ian is a talking lightbulb.

Faceless dancers, with multi-coloured flashing-light shoes, move at individual pace behind a projection screen; only their arms, legs and feet are visible. As they slowly synchronise, we are being transported back to 1989, a time before these performers were even born.

The music is loud – very loud – pulsing beats all around us, and through us.  Ian is a talking lightbulb, his words the voice of the people.  The dancers burst forth from behind the screen, their faces flashing with fear and excitement, love and laughter.  The text on the screen seems to be written in a neon font from some 80's computer.  It text flashes wildly: "WE ARE IAN", "we are ian", "WE ARE IAN".

This is theatre as I have never experienced before.  The story is told through dance; the only speech comes from Ian, the talking lightbulb, pulsing above us in rhythm with its words. The dance troupe's mood is energetic and hopeful, smiling – a little too much smiling. The club drug-scene of this era is dominated by "biscuits", and these dancers have a lot of actual brown biscuits with them, which they start to distribute amongst us: the crowd, the people, the followers.

The voice and the projections both encourage participation – no, they demand participation.  I feel the peer pressure to join in.  "Go on", they gesture, dancing through the mash-potato and cheese-string rain, drawing me in as they pull on invisible ropes.

The girls in the white dungarees are Nora, Dora and Kat, collectively known as "In Bed With My Brother".  Their energetic dance moves are suddenly punctuated, and come to a crashing halt; they lie on the floor, steam rising off their faces. The lightbulb swings around in angry circles.  Ian's not happy.  We are reminded on the projection screen that times have worsened.

Now the dance trio are moving in sync, yet seem entirely individual and somewhat alone, as the mood of the music slides downwards and takes on a relatively sombre tone.  Inevitably, the drugs of choice align themselves with the feelings of the people (or is that the other way around?)  We are being taken on a bad trip, and Ian reminds us of who is really responsible for this misery: the screen strobes through images of football hooligans, of Margaret Thatcher, of mounted police charging a crowd.

Clearly the era of happiness is coming to an end.  "We've got fuck all now," says the talking lightbulb.  And we agree.  Well we would, wouldn't we?  "WE ARE IAN".