Boys

Even the greatest of parties end with the hangover of cleaning up afterwards. For the four “boys”living in this particular Edinburgh flat, however, the mess they face is as much emotional as physical. The “end of days”are upon them; exams are finished, the lease ends in a week, and it’s time for just one more party before everyone moves on to – or at least tries to reach – the rest of their lives.

On the surface, Ella Hickson’s play is about emotionally stunted young men, and a party-animal student lifestylefuelled as much by hedonism and frustration as drugs.

Not that it’s easy for these boys: Benny has completed his exams, but is emotionally bruised by his brother’s suicide, barely coping with the world from a distancing position sat on top of the fridge. Cam is a former child-prodigy at the violin, on the edge of potential adult career greatness but feeling trapped by his talent. Party-loving Timp, meantime, is actually about to hit 30, barely content with a dead-end job alongside his girlfriend Laura, and already thinking of his next generation of flatmates. Finally, there’s quiet, world-weary Mack, who believes everyone should take responsibility for their own lives and finds himself increasingly in conflict with “grumpy frowner” Benny who wants to do “something” to make the world better.

On the surface, Ella Hickson’s play is about emotionally stunted young men, and a party-animal student lifestylefuelled as much by hedonism and frustration as drugs. As a script, though, it has problems; despite some frequently amusing lines –“Why is there a naked girl in the bath?” for example – this play undoubtedly feels its length, sagging under the weight of its ideas and displaying an over-reliance on bin-bags as both physical props and all-too-obvious metaphor. Try as it might, this new production by Urban Fairytale Theatre Company and Tiny Fragments Theatre, isn’t able to compensate.

Indeed, the companies arguably make things worse by choosing to add a pre-show “performance” in which the cast, mingling among an audience seated, cabaret-style, at tables (the venue is a function suite in Glasgow’s latest micro-brewery and bar), perform choreography suggestive of the party which takes place before the play starts. While clearly an attempt to make the whole experience more immersive for the audience, the clearest consequence is simply the addition of an extra half-hour to an already over-long production.

That said, there’s still much to praise in this production: great use of music; an impressively realistic set; and the use of lighting and sound creates a genuinely immersive experience. Costumes too are on the ball: from Benny’s “I’ll become what I deserve” T-shirt to Sophie (the former girlfriend of Benny’s late brother, who has a secret relationship with Mack) clearly choosing to dress as Snow White for the flat’s last party). If Dan McIntosh is often too annoyingly nasal – admittedly, Benny’s not intended to be a particularly likeable character – then the rest of the cast offer some great peformances. Of particular note are Dionne Frati as Sophie, Sarah Meikle as Laura and Nikk Andrew Kay as Timp, whose confidence on stage belies the fact that he’s still currently finishing his HND in Acting and Performance. 

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

Multiple Venues

Nests

★★★
Dundee Rep Theatre / Macrobert Arts Centre

The Yellow on the Broom

★★★
Underbelly, Bristo Square

Tom Neenan: It's Always Infinity

★★★★
Assembly George Square Studios

Police Cops in Space

★★★★★
Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Rik Carranza: Still a Fan

★★★★
Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Marmite

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Finals day 2011. Four boys in a five bedroom flat gear up for one huge party to end all parties. As they enter adulthood, all of them face an uncertain future in an uncaring world and even the good times look problematic. Still, there’s going to be girls and booze. It’s going to be a riot.

Urban fairytale and Tiny Fragments present Ella Hickson’s riotous coming of age play, Boys. Expect dirty beats and epic movement sequences. Come join the immersive performance that invites you to the party.

Ella Hickson's BOYS is being presented at The Drygate Brewery, Glasgow, Tuesday April 7th – Thursday April 9th 2015 at 7.30pm, with door open at 6.30pm with a pre-show performance at 7pm.