Theatre review: The Brunch Club, Pleasance Pop-Up: Levels, 9C Holyrood Road, Edinburgh

The Brunch Club, Pleasance Pop-Up: Levels, 9C Holyrood Road (Venue 175)
The Brunch Club, Pleasance Pop-Up: Levels, 9C Holyrood Road (Venue 175)
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The kids are all right; but like so many of us in the western world today, they often seem trapped by old attitudes and behaviour patterns from a 1980’s movie, while all around us the planet cries out for new solutions, and new ways of being.

The Brunch Club, Pleasance Pop-Up: Levels, 9C Holyrood Road, Edinburgh * * * *

That’s the paradox at the heart of the Scottish Drama Training Network’s new Fringe show, co-produced with the acclaimed Edinburgh-based site-specific theatre company Grid Iron. As we watch, in the cafe area of a student accommodation complex, eight young people assemble, apparently with the task of designing their own detention session, on the first day of college. Some already know one another from school, others wish they didn’t; and as they chat and argue and finally agree to give up their all-consuming mobile phones for an hour or so, we can see the classic figures of all high-school drama emerging, from the pretty popular girl and her less pretty friend, through the goth girl and the environmental activist, to the stud, the bad boy, the whimsical poet-singer, and the geek who’s teased and bullied by everyone, from his college mates to his demanding parents.

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As he makes clear in a programme note, writer and director Ben Harrison is acutely aware of the persistence of these stereotypes, although in what is partly a devised show created with young people from Aberdeen to Ayr, he is not always able to prevent them from becoming both predictable and a shade dull. At the heart of the show, though, there is a sense of a generation that has been dealt a spectacularly tough hand rediscovering the power of conviviality, of conversation, and of emotional openness about the issues they face; all achieved with plenty of music and laughter, a touch of poetry, and a series of impressive performances from a memorable young acting company, including Kieran Bole as spice boy KB, Draya Maria as activist Rosie, and Jarad Rowan as Eddie, the boy with a guitar, and his own song to sing.

Until 24 August

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