Tracy is 17, just out of high school and off on an adventure around the world before uni starts. While abroad, she meets a German DJ who convinces her to head to Berlin. After getting sucked into the club scene, overstaying her curfew and running out of money, Tracy’s grandmother Mabel comes looking for her, and finds herself on her own adventure of rebirth.
At its core, M.Rock is about a generation gap, and the new beginnings that can happen at any age. While it uses the Berlin club scene as a mechanism for this, it pays little homage to the city or the music that are supposedly so central to the plot. It tends to skim over club and drug culture, and offers less than a cursory glance toward the music at the centre of it. Rather than delving head-first into the hedonism of techno and exploring the dark underbelly of its current spiritual epicentre – and the emotional rollercoaster that goes with it – we instead get top-line caricatures of ‘club girl’, ‘hipster Berlin artist’ and ‘superstar DJ’.
What redeems the play, however, is the cast, which works ridiculously hard and has a hell of a lot of fun with it. The three chorus members, Joshua Brennan, Madeleine Jones and Brandon McClelland, switch effortlessly between a variety of characters, and tell the story with gusto. Set design from Adrienn Lord also frames the story well using the backdrop of a very realistic looking nightclub. While Jonny Seymour (from Stereogamous) does an excellent job with sound design and DJing onstage, as this is a co-production with the Australian Theatre For Young People, I can’t help but feel any of the countless up-and-coming young DJ/producers of the moment would have better fit the play’s themes.
It’s no Human Traffic, but if you’re looking for a good laugh with the parents (or grandparents), M.Rock is a fun exploration of cross-generational angst and rebirth. If you’re looking for a realistic exploration of current club culture, you’ll probably find more on a Ministry of Sound Annual.
M.Rock is playing at Sydney Theatre Company until Saturday June 28.