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Emma Summerton’s new play “Creating Rumours” is showing for a couple more afternoons at the Nicolson Square Greenside. Ken Caillat (Sam Morris) is reminiscing about the time that he had produced Fleetwood Mac’s bestselling 1977 album Rumours. He digs out a copy for us and, as the needle plumps on to the vinyl, his memories come flooding back. Yet whereas for millions of people this experience will make them think of teenaged parties and early sexual encounters, Caillat’s curse is to remember the band’s acrimonious squabbling. The ghosts take to the stage. Uneasily, we sit through forty increasingly disillusioning minutes of alcoholism, drug abuse, meaningless relationships and general human wreckage.

Caillat is the uncool one and he is always jumpy and fretting. John McVie (Arthur Mckechnie) is depleted from alcohol; Lindsay Buckingham (Joe Strickland) is bored and a dickhead and he clearly thinks that “Gold Dust Woman” is shit. Both Stevie Nicks (Emma Pallett) and Christine McVie (Boo Jackson) are listlessly snorting coke and no doubt dreaming about fucking somebody who is likeable. Mick Fleetwood (Arnaud Lacey) fantasises stoically about eloping with Nicks. Yet teamwork makes the dream work, and somehow this bunch of narcissistic bores, in these dreary circumstances, had made a record that would sell over 40 million copies.

Unsurprisingly,”Creating Rumours” is not an “official,” approved history and this probably explains why only the karaoke versions of songs from the album are twanging along emptily in the background. The cast is thus like a tribute band without the music. Or rather, the entire drama is a kind of substitute karaoke, since a lot of the band’s emotional anguish had passed synonymously into their songs. Perhaps this production had been denied permission to use the music late in the day and so they had simply ploughed on with the dry sections of a cancelled musical. The somewhat unflattering representations of the stars could be therefore down to sheer spite.

Fleetwood Mac’s studio ultimately resembles a standard office or flatshare. There are the same events – hardly lively enough to be termed “shenanigans” – that go on all the time in these familiar places. But it is genuinely baffling as to how we can be expected to follow this story. It only comes to function in the end as a joke, a send-up of the uselessness of biography at accessing the truth of great art. “Creating Rumours” in this respect conducts the opposite of alchemy, in transmuting the shiny cleanliness of the music back into the base, unexceptional feelings that had come first.

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