One of the successes of the 2008 Fringe returns to Edinburgh with a new cast and fresh direction but retains its ability to be an uncomfortable experience.
Dougal Irvine’s story is set in the departure lounge of Malaga airport as four lads prepare to return home after a debauched week in the sunshine to celebrate the end of exams but are stuck by a long delay. This passage of time allows the friends to share what their friendship means to them and a secret to be revealed.
The major let down in the show is the non stop blatant homophobia which permeates the first 25 minutes of the show, including the opening number “that’s so gay” which helps to reinforce a negative stereotype of British lads abroad. The adopting of the word ‘gay’ in place of alternative swear words at first had me questioning what the writer was trying to say, but by the end of the piece it becomes clear he is commenting on the way the youth of society uses words without thinking through their impact.
Its not all bad though, as the second half of the show does readdress the balance as Jamie Barnard gives a heartfelt performance as Jordan and forces his friends to re-evaluate their stance on their chosen swear word. There are also moments of great comedy and others of deep pathos which was an unexpected but pleasing addition.
The cast give a performance that is full of energy in the very hot space, throwing themselves completely into the mad songs and choreography. The are joined by Hayley Hampson in the role of Sophie who for the bulk of the show appears in flashback moments as the blonde bimbo on the pull.
The songs are at times soulful and fun, and are performed with the accompaniment of two onstage guitarists. All four of the male voices were truly superb and special mention must go to Michael Fletcher in the role of Pete. He had a slight issue with his microphone at one point and we got to hear his natural voice and it was powerful and beautiful in equal measure.
This musical does have a point to make and the cast get the message across well. It was interesting to see how these lads tick, since society is quick to write off such people as louts. This production highlights that they are all too human, with thoughts and feelings with the same daily concerns as the rest of us.
This show is a worthy addition to the Fringe as it sums up what the festival is all about, theatre with no limits. Why not give it a go!