Dec 2 2022 | By More

★★★☆☆   Comedy capers

Traverse: Thurs 1 – Fri 2 Dec 2022
Review by Allan Wilson

Comedy is definitely a priority as the four members of Edinburgh playwright collective 4Play bring four pieces of new work to the Traverse stage, much to the delight of a capacity first night audience.

The four works: Pighead by Katy Nixon, McEwan by Mikey Burnett, The Pervs and Plans of Only Fans by Andrea McKenzie and Steak Out by Ruaraidh Murray are clearly at different stages of development, but all show great promise.

Promotion images for Pighead by Katy Nixon, McEwan by Mikey Burnett.

First up, Katy Nixon’s Pighead, directed by Andrea Cabrera Luna, imagines a near future where David Cameron (Isla Campbell) is a member of the House of Lords, contemplating a vote on making abortion illegal in order to address population decline.

He is haunted by the ghost of the pig at the centre of a notorious alleged incident with Boris Johnson from his schooldays at Eton.

The pig (Sita Pieraccini) is rightly upset by her treatment and berates Cameron with some very funny pork jokes. The fantasy elements are enhanced by a dance sequence and a brief re-enactment of the original incident, before Cameron’s haunting continues as the ghost of Margaret Thatcher (Deborah Whyte) returns to administer suitable punishment.


The focus of Mikey Burnett’s McEwan, directed by Mary McCluskey, is on a discussion between a boxer from Wester Hailes (energetically played by Chris Dennis) and a journalist (Christie Russell-Brown) on how he lost a world title fight.

This is the most serious of the four plays on view, as we find out about the elements that conspired to make McEwan’s defeat inevitable. Even here, there are moments of genuine humour as the boxer reflects on his career and, in particular, when Russell-Brown takes on the role of a typically over-the-top MC for the big fight. Over the space of twenty minutes the play gives a very decent representation of the world of boxing.

Promotional images for he Pervs and Plans of Only Fans by Andrea McKenzie and Steak Out by Ruaraidh Murray, part of 4Play at the Traverse.

Jen McGregor directs The Pervs and Plans of OnlyFans by Andrea McKenzie, drawing out elements of a bedroom farce as a middle-aged, single mum, played by McKenzie herself, “with a drawer full of bills she cannot pay and a drawer full of underwear with nobody to show it to” turns to online sex work in response to the cost of living crisis.

As she wittily develops her online persona, she enlists the photographic help of a shy courier (Sean Langtree) delivering cat food and a relationship develops. The actors make full use of the space, with notable use of music such as Katy Perry’s Roar to enhance the action as their confidence grows.

Steak Out

Ruaraidh Murray directs his own script for Steak Out, about a butcher and his dysfunctional family conspire to rob a rival of his best cuts in the lead up to Christmas. This work is at an earlier stage of development than the others, with the actors seated on a row of chairs reading from the script, but Michael Nardone’s Archie delivers sharply witty lines bemoaning the impact of supermarkets on his business, while Mo (Deborah Whyte) tries to keep the family together.

Slightly confusingly, their unemployed actor son (Rhys Watson) is referred to by two names, Thomas and Choo-Choo, presumably drawn from Thomas the Tank Engine.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable evening of four short works in progress that provides a lot of laughs, which is exactly what the audience is looking for, and will no doubt help the writers sharpen their scripts for future performances.

Running Time: Two hours (including one interval)
Traverse, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED. Phone booking: 0131 228 1404
Thursday 1 – Friday 2 December 2022
Evenings: 7.30pm (Traverse 2).
Tickets and details: Book here (returns only).

4Play Writers Collective website: https://4playtheatre.com
Twitter: @4playedin.
Instagram: @4playtheatre.


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