Fire Signs

Aug 13 2022 | By More

★★★☆☆       Relatable

Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33): Wed 3 – Mon 15 Aug 2022
Review by Suzanne O’Brien

Fire Signs from the Edinburgh University Theatre Company at Pleasance Courtyard until August 15, is a celebration of the intensity of friendships at university.

Written by emerging playwright Lana Stone and directed by Bella Taylor, the comical play is highly relatable, however it relies a little too much on stereotypes and lacks depth.

A scene from Fire Signs. Pic Isabella Fisher Turner

The play centres around best friends and flatmates Bobbie (Clara Wessley) and Emma (Chisa Chanda) as they try to navigate their second year of university life.

It starts strongly enough, with energetic flashes of pink light as the two friends join the university pole dancing society, led by an over-enthusiastic instructor, played with great humour by Tess Bailie.

Clearly over-exaggerated and making fun of the many weird social societies that universities have to offer, the scene sets the play up nicely, with a strong sense of hope as the friends discuss their intentions to make this the best year of their lives.

Wessley is an engaging performer and easy portray’s Bobbie’s quirky innocence – she is prone to say little more than she should at the wrong times. She soon meets Jules (Otis Kelly) who fits her five requirements for a boy.

Kelly convinces as the poetry-loving and Shakespeare reciting character, sporting a black turtleneck and Andy Warhol Marilyn Monroe bag. Their relationship and slightly contrasting characters are highly entertaining and provides many laughs.

A scene from Fire Signs. Pic Isabella Fisher Turner

Meanwhile, the on and off again tumultuous relationship between Daisy (Bailie again) and Toby (Ben Pearson) is explored – although we rarely see them on stage together. In addition, Ted Ackery plays a variety of roles including a vape artist and a random Halloween date, which are equally entertaining.

All of the characters are instantly recognisable stereotypes, which is where most of the humour arises. The characterisation is well done with distinguishing mannerisms and quirks. Holly Smith’s costumes show great attention to detail. It makes the piece easily relatable to an extent – however the stereotypes are very one sided and their lack of character arc means that it is hard to relate beyond surface level.

Short and snappy scenes keep the piece moving at a good pace and the loud energetic music between scenes does well to sustain momentum.


Stone’s ambitious script tries to fit a whole chaotic university year into just one hour. In doing so it can feel rushed and leave you unable to fully process the feelings, actions or emotions of any one character. In addition, the timeline of the piece isn’t always clear as it seems to jump suddenly with only the odd references to time having passed. One minute Jules is in Canada and the next Emma goes home without clear explanation and then returns months later. It might emphasize how fast paced Uni life can be, but it doesn’t flow and is not always easy to follow.

The trivialities of university life are highlighted but it lacks substance. There is a definite sweetness and innocence about the whole play, but it doesn’t delve into the real complexities of being a student just the superficial – boys, love and the endless university societies. Although of course poking fun at the superficial brings comedy, but the inclusion of something deeper could have enhanced the comedy further whilst also having a bit more heart.

There is great potential in Fire Signs, with strong performances throughout from a talented and comical cast. However, both the storyline and characters could be more successful with further development.

Run time – 1 hour (no interval)
Pleasance Courtyard (Above) 60 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ (Venue 33)
Wednesday 3 – Monday 15 August 2022
Daily: 11:45
Tickets and details: Book here.

EUTC website:
Twitter: @bedlamtheatre


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