Mon 11th – Sat 23rd August 2014


Georgina Wilson

at 21:27 on 18th Aug 2014



Occupied is a play in a distant theatre of Edinburgh about a protest about a play in a theatre which occupies the theatre and sends the original play to the mainstream lands of C venues…..”eurgh, sooo central”, one cast member/protester laments.

Once you get your head round this, the production is generally light-hearted, enjoyable, and good at mocking itself and the pretentiousness of students. Personal favourite lines include “you can’t cook an omelette without break eggs” – “I find that really offensive. I’m a vegan”; and “I’m not a communist I’m a socialist Marxist. You clearly haven’t done any real reading.” By the end of the show this particular line of jokes is wearing slightly thin; yes it’s funny for students to mock students but if you’re not a student then you might begin to sigh wearily at these young people’s naivety, rather like the media responses to the protest in the play.

Each of the protestors is good at maintaining their own particular personality – there’s the guitar player who refuses to take sides, the domineering Cady who likes to enforce bizarre hand signals in communication, and the slightly desperate and waist-coated Alex who is into writing post-ironic theatre for animals. The play does a good job of managing to maintain interest and individuality in all eight protestors.

The most entertaining moments are between pairs of protestors. There are at least two men ardently in love with two of the women which causes much amusement, and the comic interjections of Bobby the anarchist with an attachment to hummus often comes with laughs.

What this play lacks is cohesion: it is a good premise which runs out of steam and is blatently filled out by such non-events as the near-appearance of a homeless person. There’s little development and the ending is a bit of a let down. It strickes me that the bittiness of the plot would make this good material for a sit-com of short episodes, but as a one hour Fringe play there’s something that doesn’t quite work structurally.

At the end of the production, the cast turn on the audience and demand our participation. They’re going to do forum theatre now, so the meta-theatricality is hammered up another level. But the cast aren’t improvisors, the audience are slightly taken aback, and given the intensely competitive level of improv at the Fringe it’s not an area where the cast particularly shine.

I had an enjoyable afternoon of it but I wasn’t overwhelmed. A very good student production, but nothing more.


Emily Brearley-Bayliss

at 10:56 on 19th Aug 2014



This production takes the concept of meta theatre to the absolute extreme. As we walk into the venue, a large hall on the outskirts of Fringe-land, we are greeted by student-types arguing about the importance of art outside the room, and then welcomed inside as friends. Through these devices we are involved in the show from the outset, as members of a group of students who have taken over a theatre in protest of budget cuts to arts funding. The performers, who are all from Cambridge, explore the importance of art, freedom of speech and the referendum, in a comical and interesting production.

The script spends so much time talking about irony, post-irony and a whole host of pretentious art-student-isms it is difficult to tell how much is actually being serious. The result of this is that it parodies everything about student activism, which is no doubt its intention. Especially at the beginning it is incredibly comical – from Marcelo Rasberge’s character, who constantly asserts that he is an anarchist, to David’s (Jamie Webb) confusion over what exactly he needs to do to stop being a misogynist.

The cast does a good job of immersing the audience into the show, and their acting has a distinctly natural feel. Webb and Alex Greenwood are particularly strong, and Fran’s (Georgia Ingles) musical interludes are inventive and hilarious. David is adorably clueless throughout; he is nervous and apologetic around Fran, and his obsession with life-drawing and full frontal nudity are brave additions if nothing else. They work well as a team, though their dialogue is fraught with ideological differences.

The pace of this show tails off towards the end, much like the characters’ cause. When things start to go wrong and some of them lose faith in their objective the play gets distinctively less funny without gaining anything more profound. The ending involves a quick breaking-up-and-making-up scenario between Zara (Rebecca Thomas) and Alex (Ben Hawkins), and a very rushed and messy improvised musical number based on the audience’s suggestions. This would perhaps have worked better if there was a larger audience, but the relatively remote location meant that this didn’t happen.

This production is an interesting one, and is, for the most part, successful. Unlike most of the shows at the Fringe, which would benefit from being lengthened and padded out, this one might keep its momentum better if it was shorter. Much of the dialogue is witty and hilariously satirical, and everyone involved has done a very good job.


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