Aug 24 2022 | By More

★★★★☆      Explosive yet poignant

Leith Arches (Venue 324): Fri 5 – Mon 29 Aug 2022
Review by Suzanne O’Brien

1902 by Saltire Sky is as slick and strong as ever as it returns home to Edinburgh for its fifth – and final – fringe with a full run at the Leith Arches.

The play follows four young, dedicated football fans in their desperation to see Hibs at the 2016 Scottish Cup Final. With new and returning performers the show is full of passion and incredible spirit.

Sands Stirling and Kieren Lee-Hamilton in 1902. Pic: Saltire Sky

When Deeks (Bailey Newsome), reveals to his friends that he has managed to get four tickets to the Scottish Cup Final, the whole place erupts with cheers of excitement. However, it is quickly revealed that in his desperation to acquire tickets, he borrowed money from the infamously violent Craig Turnbull (Jonny Tulloch).

Of course he must repay the loan – but just how are he and his mates are going to afford this, when they don’t have any money?

Directed by Nathan Scott-Dunn and Sands Stirling the piece is an explosive mix of comedy and violence as tensions rise and the friends endeavour to rectify the situation. Set in the round, it thrusts its audiences right into the action and makes full use of the Leith Arches venue.

quick and witty

Scott-Dunn’s quick and witty dialogue and the camaraderie shown between Deeks and the other three Hibs fans Frankie (Josh Brock), Sambo (Alexander Arran-Cowan) and Zippy (Kieren Lee-Hamilton) is something really quite special.

The foursome all have their individual quirks and they make for a slightly dysfunctional but perfectly balanced friend group that is both relatable and highly entertaining.

Ella Stokes in 1902. Pic: Saltire Sky

Newsome puts in a commendable performance as Deeks, showing the many levels of complexities to the character, while going on a tiring emotional journey. When Deeks is reunited with his brother Tony (Sands Stirling), who may be their only hope in sorting their messy situation, the tension is palpable.

The relationship the actors instil between the two brothers is explosive, electric and simply heart-breaking as they are forced to address their past.

The live music played and sung by Sandy Bain allows moments of joy and elation as well as reflection. Ella Stokes’ performance as Mags, although small, is intrinsic to the piece. Stokes portray’ a no-nonsense woman with great humour, who underneath it all has the purest of hearts.

well polished production

You certainly don’t need to be a football fan to connect with this fantastic piece of writing and well polished production that has an underlying poignancy.

Saltire Sky theatre company have a distinctive style which is instantly recognisable. They clearly have strong aspirations to create theatre that is accessible to everyone and tell stories of working-class people. Both their shows at this year’s fringe – 1902 and Bits ‘N’ Pieces are incredibly successful in doing just that.

Run time: One hour and 20 minutes (including one interval)
Leith Arches (Ground level) 6 Manderston Street, EH6 8LY (Venue 324)
Friday 5 – Monday 29 August 2022
Daily (not Thurs): 17:00 & 19:30
Tickets and details: Book here.

Facebook: @saltireskytheatre
Instagram: @saltireskytheatre
Twitter: @SaltireSkyTC

1902 Cup Final Ending. Pic: Saltire Sky


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