Bits ‘N’ Pieces

Aug 20 2022 | By More

★★★★☆     Electric

Leith Arches (Venue 324): Mon 8 – Tue 23 Aug 2022
Review by Suzanne O’Brien

Bits ‘N’ Pieces, Saltire Sky’s new immersive show at Leith Arches, immediately transports you to a rave, with vibrant flashing lights, energetic dance moves and music that will pulse through your body.

Performed in-the-round, Nathan Scott-Dunn’s script explores recreational drug use in a production that is a fast-paced feast for the senses, full of adrenaline and with strong emotions at its heart.

A scene from Bits ‘n’ Pieces. Pic Saltire Sky

Bits ‘N’ Pieces tells the story of close friends Matty (Calum Manchip) Dougie (Sandy Bain) and Tommy (Scott-Dunn). When Matty announces he has been called-up to go to Afghanistan with the RAF, his mates decide to give him a big send-off. What better than a surprising rave at the Usher Hall with DJ Denis Sulta.

However, what was supposed to be the best night of their lives doesn’t go as planned and there are some very serious consequences which the friends are forced to deal with.

These young and immensely talented actors bring energy, enthusiasm, and quality to the show. The relationship and bond which Scott-Dunn, Manchip and Bain create is realistic and full of great banter. Underneath all the jibes and jabs they bring sensitivity and truth to their respective roles.

Emily Drewett and Christie Russell-Brown give impassioned performances as mothers Kim and Mandy. Although their roles are considerably smaller, they command the stage and have a strong presence. The piece is further brought to life by another strong female and great talent – live DJ Emma Hussain – who is in full view throughout the performance.

seamlessly integrated

Clever use of stylised movements throughout indicates the passing of time and helps give the production pace, while the incorporation of a projection screen, used to emphasize different parts of the story, brings much humour.

A range of costumes and props, from shopping trolleys to toilet seats, enhance the piece and are seamlessly integrated into scenes and scene changes, helping make for a clean and swift production.

However, while the venue suits the play incredibly well visually, the acoustic of the room and the fact that it is in the round mean that it is occasionally hard to hear all the fast-paced dialogue.

Nathan Scott-Dunn and Calum Manchip in Bits ‘n’ Pieces. Pic Saltire Sky

This tragicomedy has an authenticity to it, as it conveys society’s attitude towards the use of recreational drugs and the culture that surrounds them. It avoids scaremongering and information dumps, just telling a story which is honest and very real while highlighting the stigma surrounding recreational drug use, the lack of support and the impact it can have on people’s mental health.

The piece is also highly critical of the lack of valuable education on drugs and is a call out for the necessity of honest drug education and early intervention. Issues which need to be heard and need to be addressed.

It is one thing to call out what is wrong with drug education – how to actually improve such education in a way that is effective is a different matter altogether. Of course, it is even more complicated when drug taking is illegal, unlike other risk-taking behaviours such as the consumption of alcohol, gambling and smoking.

starting point

Bits ‘N’ Pieces is a clear attempt to provoke a reaction, highlight issues and be a starting point that opens up conversations about drug use and the health and wellbeing of young people.

It is worth noting that throughout its development the company worked with recreational drug use agency Crew 2000 and support workers in the NHS. This helped helped give the script an authenticity and made sure is wasn’t spreading false information.

Beyond these intentions, Bits ‘n’ Pieces is a fantastic piece of theatre; a perfect play for people who have preconceived ideas about theatre not being for them. It is not only accessible, it is highly entertaining, thought provoking and hard hitting.

Situated at Leith arches this new show is definitely worth travelling the extra distance out of the centre for.

Running time: One hour 30 minutes (No interval)
Leith Arches (Ground level) 6 Manderston Street, EH6 8LY (Venue 324)
Monday 8 – Tuesday 23 August 2022
Daily (not Thurs): 22:30
Tickets and details: Book here.

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