Aug 16 2015 | By More

✭✭✩✩✩   Nostalgic radge

Gilded Balloon (Venue 14): Wed 5 – Mon 31 August 2015

Ruaraidh Murray’s Allie at the Gilded Balloon Billiard Room is spirited and energetic but ultimately somewhat empty.

Murray has certainly created compelling and funny pieces in the past, but disappointingly on this occasion seems to be treading water.

Megan Shandley and Ruaraidh Murray. Photo: Stella Fiona November

Megan Shandley and Ruaraidh Murray. Photo: Stella Fiona November

The first warning signs come early with references to Edinburgh nightclubs of the last century. Mentions of Buster Brown’s and Cinderella Rockefellas will please locals of a certain vintage, but the ‘seedy 90s Edinburgh’ path is a well trodden one, not least by Murray himself, and perhaps needs to be avoided for a while.

That said, the play is brash and tightly constructed, even if the twists in the plot are not too difficult to anticipate. The story deals with teenager Allie, who falls in love with wannabe hood Bobby Warren.

In one sense, Murray has definitely moved on, in that this is a two-person play rather than a solo show. This means that the impressive Megan Shandley is able to show her range as Allie, starting as a naïve teenager and developing into a much sadder and harder individual.

psychopathic Hibs casual

To an extent she overshadows Murray, who is darkly funny and charismatic, but does not ever quite convince as Bobby, the psychopathic Hibs casual and pure radge. This means that his motivations are never entirely clear and his character has a cartoonish quality.

Tim Stark’s direction is sparky and lively, but this only further points up the lack of depth. As a result, the portrayal of violence on the stage never seems to have realistic cause, let alone consequences, and is played in a way that is too flippant to convince. This means that Murray’s well-intentioned introduction of a woman’s perspective and experience is fatally compromised.

There’s no denying Murray’s acting and writing talents, but he needs to forget about the limiting ‘Irvine Welsh crossed with Quentin Tarantino’ concept so prominently displayed on all of the publicity and try something else.

Running time 55 minutes
Gilded Balloon (Venue 14), Teviot Row House, Bristo Square, EH8 9AJ
Wednesday 5 – Monday 31 August 2015
Daily at 5.00 pm
Book tickets on the EdFringe website:
Ruaraidh Murray’s website:


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