• By Ryan Hay
  • |
  • 17th Aug 2016
  • |
  • ★★★★

The work of playwriting powerhouse Ella Hickson has always been connected to the Edinburgh Fringe, since her debut show Eight premiered there in 2008. Hickson's plays speak to a younger theatregoer, forming deeply personal analyses of a generation categorised by apathy. Boys, produced by Aireborne Theatre at Greenside Infirmary Street, makes up this year's Hickson dose.

An energetic and moving play

This is perfect Fringe theatre – the action takes place on the static set of a grime-y student kitchen (in, apparently, Edinburgh), putting the play's focus on its performance, and letting Hickson's script shine. This is verbatim theatre at its realest – every member of its young cast is credible in their characters, a merry band of drinking, dancing, drug-taking real people. The production itself is considered – bin bags and grafitti'd chairs constitute the set in its entirety, and are again a sensible representation of the central student kitchen as the rubbish they produce with their endless partying builds and builds in a grotesque stage image. This image is all the more repulsive in a scene in which the bin bags are thrown around under strobing lights, with trash flooding the stage and even hitting the audience.

This show, unfortunately, suffered under its direction. Hickson's script revolves around the deep, complex relationship between the eponymous boys and their friends/girlfriends, and while the acting was excellent, the relationships between characters were seldom dealt with in depth (with the exception of that between Timp and Laura, which is movingly and heart-achingly subtle). The moments of darkness early in the script were lost, with the director's focus being placed squarely on the pivotal party scene – a sadly rather reductive reading of the piece. Another significant oversight occurs when a crucial injury to a violinist's hand, which is supposed to ruin his playing career (“I'll never play again”), is dished out on the right hand instead of the left – a small but pivotal detail which exposes the artifice of an otherwise credible tight piece of theatre.

Though the piece might have benefited from a closer reading of the text, this is an energetic and moving play, and the strength of Aireborne's cast must not be ignored.

Reviews by Ryan Hay

Assembly George Square Studios

White Rabbit Red Rabbit

St Ninian's Hall


Gilded Balloon Teviot


Pleasance Courtyard


Scottish Storytelling Centre

Loud Poets

Greenside @ Infirmary Street





The Blurb

'What would you do if someone told you – if you knew – if the look in some old guy's face told you that being young was as good as it ever gets?' As a group of friends finish university the prospect of a bleak future begins to dawn on them. To prolong the inevitable, they decide to party. Hard. But things get out of hand, futures change and relationships are ruined. One night. One party. Too many mistakes. Written by Ella Hickson. An amateur production in arrangement with Nick Hern Books.