Tiwai Muza and Joseph Ward’s Disc Jockey is an honest depiction of how recreational drug use can easily slip into a dangerous and uncontrollable habit. It’s a cautionary tale which makes its audience reflect on whether an addiction-related downfall could happen to anyone we know.
DJ (Tiwai Muza), who coincidentally also likes to DJ as a hobby, hopes to impress during his upcoming gig. He’s joined by his best friend Wilf (an animated Will Ni) and Wilf’s girlfriend Clara (a radiant Sarah Cameron-West). Tonight Clara invites her influencer friend Poppy (a foxy Mei Mei Macleod) along too who she hopes to match up with DJ.
The friends frequently offer one another drugs with the same casual air as offering one another a cup of coffee. There’s weed, cocaine, ketamine and alcohol all readily available in the flat. The first half of the piece is dedicated to establishing the culture around drug-taking – ‘do you want a junior or a senior?’ – and the silly banter and behaviour when high – Poppy launches into an unexpected rant about the situation in Yemen. These scenes directed by Joseph Ward are believable and humourous in parts too. But over time the pace starts to sag and the drug-taking scenes risk feeling feel fairly routine and inconsequential. It’s only when DJ’s career starts to take off and his drug use escalates that you’re drawn to lean in more to the unravelling events.
Over time, Wilf and Clara step back from the nights out but DJ and Poppy carry on going out. Before our eyes DJ, convincingly portrayed by Muza, spirals from being ambitious and likeable to an argumentative and paranoid man who is no longer in control. When DJ starts to suffer devasting health consequences as a result of his drug use, it’s surprising to see how grave the health impact is for substances he was consuming like Haribo. The writing does well to subtly challenge the idea that because someone is an ‘adult’, it’s fine if they decide to take copious amounts of drugs – the notion doesn’t quite hold up when you see the degree to which this attitude further enables destructive behaviour.
As a drama, the piece was not as hard-hitting as a whole as I would have expected it to be. Nonetheless, its message about the perils of drug use was delivered effectively. It’s clear that drug addiction is something to be taken seriously; it doesn’t happen overnight and the impact that it can have on someone’s life and their friendships can be wide-ranging. The piece displays a lot of promise for playwrights Tiwai Muza and Joseph Ward.
Disc Jockey is running at the Bread and Roses Theatre until 5 February 2022 at the time of writing.
Photo Credit: Sian Duggan