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Happy Dave review at the Pleasance, Edinburgh – ‘resonant and hilarious’

Happy Dave at the Pleasance, Edinburgh Happy Dave at the Pleasance, Edinburgh

Rave is dead, the 90s are over and Dave now works for a Canary Wharf ad firm. The dream came crashing to an end accompanied by the sound of police sirens and the glow of blue flashing lights, and Dave’s life as a rave DJ collapsed. But now, with a little help from some new (much younger) friends, he might have a chance to win it all back, to show the kids that old ravers die hard, and that things really were better back in his day.

Happy Dave is a warm, resonant and often hilarious new play from Smoke and Oakum, a young company which seriously impressed with last year’s boxing drama Cornermen. If anything, this new show is even better, taking in millennial malaise and mid-life crises to a hard techno beat. The script from Oli Forsyth is superb, witty and well-observed with snappy dialogue and deft characterisations.

Andy McLeod excels as the stubborn but irresistible dancing Dave, but the whole cast impresses as it flits from broad comic caricatures of minor characters to the heartfelt camaraderie of Dave’s newfound friends. There’s something defiantly untrendy about the work Smoke and Oakum produces – there are no onstage microphones, no verbatim elements. Instead, the company excels at good old-fashioned storytelling and robust, winning productions.

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Hilarious, heartfelt story of the death and rebirth of rave culture for one never-say-die fan