Browse reviews

Edinburgh Fringe 2019

The Ladies Room

Sparklab Productions

Genre: Drama, New Writing, Radio Play

Venue: Summerhall BBC pop up radio studio


Low Down

An opportunity to attend a recording of a BBC audio drama for Radio 3. In all there will be nine 30 minute plays recorded in the pop up radio drama studio at Summerhall.

August 6th: The Ladies Room Gemma Bedeau wonders how do you stay friends when people change? She invites us to join Amy, Becca and Keisha on a girls’ night out in the Ladies room of a nightclub.


This is a review of the experience of attending a live recording of a radio drama rather than the radio play, The Ladies Room, which is excellent. It was a one off recording in the pop up radio drama studio at Summerhall and will be broadcast on Radio 3 on Oct 27th. Three young women on a night out, none too sober, trying to help the most drunk one back into her overly tight spandex whilst keeping her upright. Secrets emerge. The three lifelong friends can no longer avoid dealing with the past. It is a touching exploration by Gemma Bedeau of the complex journeys young women face in the 21st century. And is the first of nine radio plays that to be recorded for Radio 3 at Summerhall  during the Fringe.

The producer provides an introduction – to the studio, to how radio drama is made and then we all try and find the ON switch and the volume control on our headphones. This way we will hear the play with sound and get a sense of how it will sound on air. She emphasises that we are allowed to laugh, move, cough it will be transmitted as recorded in front of a live audience.

Unlike most theatre, the sound desk is clearly visible to one side – you couldn’t really hide it, it’s bigger than some Fringe stages. The stage area has two microphones, a table with a script stand and a collection of apparent oddments – loo roll, a bowl of water, all presided over by the provider of spot sounds. There is also a large box with a door, but it isn’t used, it looks as though they tried various options in rehearsal and found the main door to the room provided a better sound for what they wanted.

We watch and listen. The actors may pause, repeat a line if they have fluffed it. The spot sound person drops a fake phone into the bowl of water, nuzzles between the actors to rub some loo roll on her hand, provide a slap. Finally there are some ‘pick ups’ – places where the director wants to rerecord something, might be some of the dialogue or a spot sound.

The bit that will be different with every recording is the questions asked afterwards. On this occasion we heard more about the writer, the actors (all very skilled with accents) and the process of developing the script. As well as the differences with the usual process – we have watched a complete run through whereas most radio dramas are now recorded on a rehearse/record each scene. Extraordinary things are achieved on very small budgets, described by the director as ‘elastic’.

It’s a thoroughly absorbing hour enjoying not only the play but seeing the work that goes into producing it. If you can get to any of the recordings I highly recommend booking a ticket now. And there’s the extra perk of being able to listen to the broadcast and relive your moment in the studio!