Fringe Theatre Theatre

1902 — Review

Venue: Leith Arches — Ground Level

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Saltire Sky Theatre are now onto their fourth run of 1902, currently performing a stone’s throw from the Easter Road Stadium (belonging to the cast’s beloved Hibernian FC). The production has developed into a well-oiled machine, with each performer hitting their marks almost flawlessly. It’s a script that necessitates this level of performing ability: while the scenery remains static, taking place exclusively in the pub ‘The Dug and Duck’, the dialogue is blisteringly fast with some impressive physical choreography too.

The story centres around four Scottish football fans who get caught up with Bonnyrigg thug Craig Turnbull, after taking a loan from him, to get tickets to see the 2016 Scottish Cup Final. The plot itself is fairly predictable, there is a scene where Turnbull gives our protagonist “Deeks” 24 hours to find himself a champion for a fist-fight: a series of events repeated across plays and movies from the last 40 years. This isn’t to say the whole play is conventional – the venue of the Leith Arches really heightens the piece, so much so it seems the script was written with it in mind. On the second level sits “The Musician” (Bain), performing whilst reacting to events down below. The stairs are constantly in use from characters running up and down, who then head over to the functioning bar to grab a pint, a luxury the audience is only afforded until the play begins, simply due to the speed at which the performers barrel through the space. 

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In a script as packed as this, not everything that is thrown will stick to the wall, which is to be expected, and there are a couple of comedic beats that become repetitive, but if one joke doesn’t quite land, you can almost guarantee the next one will. It’s a tricky job balancing the tones of the production: the first act is exclusively comedic, but as the play goes on elements of tragedy are introduced, and while for the most part this is all well balanced, there are times when the audience seemed unsure if they were allowed to laugh.

The core of this performance is the characters: Tulloch’s Craig Turnbull is such a fun, cartoonish villain, and Scott-Dunn is a perfect protagonist as “Deeks”, able to shift easily from swaggering bravado to brutal vulnerability, but ultimately every character is well written and charmingly performed. You will be hard pressed to find a show that is as undeniably fun this Fringe, and hopefully you’ll be able to see it at many more Fringes to come.

Dates: Aug 10-11, 13-18, 20-25, 27-30 (17:00, 19:30)
Images: Zaira Di Palma