REVIEW: Afterparty, New Celts Productions & F-Bomb Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe 2021 ★★★★☆

One of the great benefits of this year’s Fringe being smaller and much more local has been the opportunity for Scottish voices to step forward and receive much more attention. Afterparty, to boot, is a Scottish production with women’s voices at the fore and working class themes explored with vigour, verve and style. What more could you ask for? It certainly fits our outfit’s brief, heavily featuring booze and all!

In one of the strongest and most forward show openings I’ve seen in some time, we’re delivered a declaration of plans for unfettered debauchery by the five main characters – Ella, Lexi, Corrie, Jess and Rhiannon. Having just finished their final exam, they head out for a night on the town that they’d like to forget. After taking coke in the bathrooms and drinking heavily, the girls decide to break into the school and one of them sets the place alight. The only problem is, nobody can remember.

Oh, except of course that isn’t the only problem, as the girls now face community service putting a fiery end to their hopes and ambitions. We learn that Ella hoped to move to London on her dad’s money, Lexi dreamt of university. All the while, Rhiannon has managed to dodge community service by not following the girls into the school that night. Secrets are revealed and relationships are broken as the day’s litter picking goes on.

This description barely describes the spirit of this play – at it’s heart it is deeply funny and powered by intense emotion and passion. Beginning on a high, it transcends any initial superficiality through it’s grit and bare-all honesty. While peppered with occasional joy, the tone of the piece is stark and bleak. It’s core philosophy is a simple one – the grass isn’t always greener. Corrie’s own personal philosophy seems to be more of a kind of hedonistic nihilism, great fun to watch but probably not the best to pursue.

As an ensemble piece it does well to explore all facets of the girls’ traumas and stories. The performances are expertly raw and deliver a cold smack in the face to the audience when they need to. Ultimately, the show cries out for systemic change for the forgotten and left behind in our society. It reforms your perceptions and it feels that the show’s creators were aiming for that.

Rachel O’Regan’s script should be praised for it’s cutting wit. A personal plus for me is any show that is comfortable using realistic, unfiltered levels of swearing – Afterparty certainly delivers in that department. Behind the jokes is a hunger for change.

And of course, a litter picker sword fight is pretty awesome. In some areas however, the performances from the girls were lacking. There was some relatively long awkward silences and slight fumbling over some lines. Projection also particularly needs to be improved at some times throughout the show.

Kickass, unafraid and bags of fun. Afterparty is a pop punk manifesto for our age.

Recommended Drink: Anything from the pub – it’s your civil right after all.

Catch Afterparty at the Jenner Theatre, TheSpaceTriplex on August 18th, 20th, 22nd, 24th, 26th and 28th. Tickets are available from the EdFringe Box Office.