1902

Tue 14th – Mon 27th August 2018

reviews

Thomas Pymer

at 02:07 on 22nd Aug 2018

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Sitting down to write this review, here are three things I didn’t have two hours ago: an in-depth knowledge of the Scottish Cup Final of 2016, a slight headache and a tear in my eye from the highly emotional final speech. '1902' tells the story of four young men in 2016 who are determined to see their team, the Hibernians, win the Scottish Cup, something they have not achieved since 1902, set against a painful family history.

The characters were all very believable; beer-drinking, a bit slow, and footie-mad. I have met people just like them in real life. It was very easy to associate with and understand them as characters. There was also a fantastic mix of emotions: they all had times when they could be downright unpleasant (with the exception of Mags the bartender, who just gave as good as she got) and also times when they could be thick, outrageous and likeable. The actors made the characters come to life; it was sometimes hard to remember that it was not a genuine conversation taking place in a bar.

The delivery was, on the whole, very good. It is unfortunately this that gave me a headache; there was a lot of shouting in a confined space. This, along with the speed at which the lines were said, meant that it was only possible to hear about three-quarters of the lines. Although this did fit in with the dialogue, it was a drawback as lines were lost and the audience had to pick it up a bit later on.

The humour was very laddish, exactly the kind of things you might overhear in the pub (incidentally, the idea of setting and staging the play in a bar was highly effective). This meant that it will not be to everyone’s taste: there were some genuinely funny bits, but also some bits where the humour relied on uncomfortable comments and some bits that were just surreal with no obvious connection, notably a scene in which the psychotic Craig sang God Save The Queen and another based around horoscopes. Although they were still funny (the horoscope one in particular had me chuckling all the way through) the performance might have been better had they been woven into what was going on instead of just stuck on as extras.

The main drawback I would have to mention is the story itself. Most of the time, it read like an old soap opera or comedy TV programme, with absurd situations and strange coincidences, alongside a plot originating entirely from one character’s muck-up. It was still a good and funny story, just one in which there was little that was new or especially believable. If the cast are reading this, I would recommend thinking about taking it further as there is a large market for shows like it, but unless sitcom or soap is your cup of tea, there is little to recommend the plot.

The same, thankfully, cannot be said of the ending, which struck a very different note: moving and poignant. The final monologue given by the main character Deeks was genuinely touching, as were the attempts afterwards by his friends to cheer him up. It provided a juxtaposition to the more light-hearted moments, and also a real sense of reconciliation.

The entire thing was a good, strong performance on the whole. If you go, you will probably enjoy it. But be prepared for a lot of noise and some excellent football-style singing.

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Jasmine Silk

at 09:25 on 22nd Aug 2018

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Going into '1902' I was concerned that it would be a show that, as someone who is clueless about football, would not be for me; I was very wrong. This show is brilliantly comic for the most part and then is able to transition seamlessly into drama which is all the more effective due to the shock of it.

The show is set in a pub full of avid football supporters; a group of four friends, a guitarist and a bartender called Maggie, all of whom you can’t help becoming quickly attached to. All of the actors exhibit brilliant comic timing, and the characters are endearingly funny to laugh at and with, while never lacking in depth. Each character shows they are capable of moments of depth and every action and reaction always feels natural and completely human. This is a credit to the actors and the direction of the piece, as is the fact that at no point does this energy let up, keeping the audience entirely gripped all the way through.

'1902' is also absolutely perfect for the space it’s in, as they set up the pub using the actual bar that is ‘The Wee Red Bar’, so you almost feel as if you are in the pub with them. This effect is added to by the breaking of the fourth wall to explain the characters we encounter, and the backstory of certain interactions. They accompany these moments with music from the guitarist who remains a constant presence, providing the music which runs through the show, as it does through pub and football culture.

The show begins and ends with singing and it is an aspect of the show which undeniably adds to the moments of exuberance which stand in stark contrast with the moments of tragedy. This contrast is why the show is so brilliant; the comedy perfectly balances the moments of tragedy, and one increases the effect of the other. The moments of insanity, coming mainly from the crazed character of Craig, are brilliantly acted and timed, as are those of comedy from the rest of the characters.

The heart of the show is in the relationships between these characters, the friendships and family bonds which make this something we can all relate to on some level. The only issue I came away thinking about was that I can’t quite pinpoint what exactly the message of the show is. Perhaps the message is that we should value these bonds, or that we should get our lives together; either way it has still made for a very convincing performance and I would wholeheartedly recommend catching it whilst you are up at the fringe this year.

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