Edinburgh Fringe 2019
There are a number of new students attending a college and have turned up at a meeting place where they are being asked to decide on their own detention. Over the next few hours and in the company of a staff member, close to their own ages, they realise each other, discover themselves and decide to keep a new tradition going.
They are all there – the emo, the geek, the popular girl, the eco warrior, the scary guy, the player and the popular wanna be but don’t wanna be girl with a staff member who looks younger than them all. From there we get their introductions, their desires to be different but also to have some form of recognition that normally only comes with conformity whilst they are trying hard, so damn hard NOT to fit in.
So far it is all fairly plain narrative and so it remains. There are tendencies to cliché throughout and when they start to pair off with each other, it is easy to work out who will end up with whom. If the story does not give us enough depth, then the musical elements do. The dance sequences are simply fantastic and had they just presented us those without a need to strip back the layers of life, we would have probably had an exceptional piece of theatre.
That having been said Ben Harrison’s script in terms of the set up and the nod to Breakfast Club has merit though it could do with delving a little deeper. Whilst young people and the current slate of issues around them can in themselves be cliched, there are areas where I would have loved to delve deeper into, particularly, how you look being how you perceive yourself.
We do however get a storyline, interweaving throughout. It benefits from a very coherent and confident cast who nail each character with style and also heart felt emotion.
There is, however, also a problem with deciding to produce in the round and predominantly perform to one side. It leaves three quarters of the audience straining at times. Many of the routines appear end on and are great from where I was sitting but must have been frustrating viewing from elsewhere.
I loved the actors and the acting. It has soul in it, but the issue is what it gets packaged in and that left me feeling a little like I had been given an empty box at Christmas. The major positive, of course, given who were involved in this, is that the future looks pretty positive. These are young actors who, alongside the Scottish Drama Training Network will have been rightly boosted by this run.