Fringe 2017: ‘Radio’ review – “yet another gleaming success for Sunscreen Productions”

Christian Bell finds recognisable features of university life in 'Radio', an original student play at the Edinburgh Fringe

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What did you do last night? Six students sit in their kitchen after a boozy house dinner on their last day of university and piece together what they can remember from the night before. Their hazy memories allow them to recall some events, but no one can remember why exactly the police are imminently due to arrive, or who called them. As the play progresses, the radio in the background becomes more and more prominent, manipulating the characters’ discussions almost to the point where it seems to be contributing to events. Friendships and romances become more and more strained in lieu of this uncertainty, and the rising tension culminates in the discovery of an incident from the night before… and the police knocking at the door.

Archie Thomson’s debut play is wickedly funny, punctured with engaging dialogue and witty comments throughout. He light-heartedly explores many of the insecurities and fears that all students face at the end of university, ranging from relationship dilemmas to career uncertainty, and the huge variety of paths available for young people to go down is reflected in the range of different characters. Thomson is critical of all his characters – be that Tom, with his economics degree, or Sam, who has spent the last 3 years working in a pub. At the end of the play you are left with the nostalgic feeling that the only thing holding the group together was university itself.

The characters are all based on exaggerated student archetypes that are immediately recognisable to anyone who has ever shared a house. Steph is the hilariously socially awkward software engineer, Paul is the laid-back Mancunian, and Bee is the left-wing feminist to name just three. It’s clear the cast worked together closely to develop these characters as each one has a flair of originality that is often missing from other plays: Steph’s mannerisms, Tom’s arrogance, and Paul’s charm all heighten the interactions of the group, and prevent the archetypes becoming hackneyed. The viewer is left with a great sense of familiarity with each of the characters, despite the performance lasting under an hour.

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Radio proves to be yet another gleaming success for Sunscreen Productions who have consistently put on critically acclaimed performances over the last couple of years. After selling out the Chelsea Theatre, I am excited to see how the next few performances at Paradise Studios go, and am looking forward to seeing what they will produce next.

Radio, Paradise in Augustine (venue 152), 9.05pm, until 19th August (except 13th).