Theatre has a unique ability to address the biggest questions facing humanity: What is the true importance of nostalgia? How do we capture love through art? Blur or Oasis? TOOT's Be Here Now at Shoreditch Town Hall somehow manages to address each of these as the cast express wonderfully sincere stories about nostalgia, love and cringey 90s music.
The piece centres on the teenage stories of Stuart Barter, Clare Dunn and Terry O'Donovan (each playing themselves) as they grapple with love and puberty, all set to the soundtrack of classic 90s music. Terry talks to his Kylie poster, Stuart hunts for the perfect song to win back his girlfriend while Clare finds herself reminiscing with an old flame and the playlist that brought them together.
It really is like cramming into a friend's bedroom as they gleefully show off their new CD and their coveted tape collection. Bean bags are strewn around with stacks of discs, cardboard boxes and an appropriately tacky disco ball. It has also been a very long time since I've seen so many minidiscs in one room. Along with the effortlessly cool attitude of TOOT, it's easy to feel like you're just hanging out with old mates.
As the trio tell their own stories of music and young love it's clear that they've found a unique way to capture nostalgia. They artfully show the intense expectations created by pop music along with the often awkward reality of relationships. It's a fantastic approach that hits the right balance of bitter and sweet.
You get plenty of opportunities to feel involved and connect with old meaningful music and memories; helping to re-stage an entire 90s house party and watch a terribly awkward serenade unfolding before your eyes. The final act in particular is an impressive logistical feat that ensures every member of the audience gets a personalised ending.
Clever tricks like this, along with the unfailing sincerity of the vibrant cast makes this a fantastic experience for nostalgic music lovers. It's irreverent, charming and has a bloody good soundtrack.
Be Here Now runs at Shoreditch Town Hall until 28 June