This really is gig theatre. Supported by the Watermill Theatre and Theatr Clwyd, Wildcard – the company behind Erica Murray’s brilliant black comedy The Cat’s Mother – has also brought up a new show that’s thoroughly rooted in live music: loud, liberating, danceable electronica.
James Meteyard’s Electrolyte follows Jessie, a Yorkshire girl who’s grown tired of snorting coke and dancing the night away on the streets of Leeds, on a pulsating, panicked journey south. She’s apparently searching for her mother and for a world that’s less resigned, but as Meteyard’s richly poetic story unfolds, it becomes clear that Jessie isn’t a reliable narrator. At all.
Donnacadh O’Briain’s exuberant production plays out on a stage littered with instruments and the cast sit around playing guitars, keyboards, drums and synthesisers. They perform the play – and Maimuna Memon’s throbbing score – with a likeable, knockabout glee, ad libbing friendly insults at each other throughout.
Olivia Sweeney supplies a riveting, reeling central performance as Jessie.
There’s a structural looseness to Meteyard’s writing that prevents the show’s climax from being as impactful as it might be, but it still packs a pretty hard punch, brutally and beautifully exploring the psychological trauma of grief.