If By Chance

Aug 5 2016 | By More

★★★☆☆  Passionate

New Town Theatre (Venue 7): Thurs 4 – Sat 13 August 2016
Review by Linus West

An exceptional cast is let down by lazy technical work at the New Town Theatre, where the Scottish Theatre and Music School’s If By Chance would be outstanding if it just got the time and resources it deserves.

An original piece devised by both the director and cast members explores the concepts of decisions and fate, through a dozen or so short stories, with just as many actors. How do the choices you make impact on your destination in life? What if…?

If By ChanceThe play struggles with this concept – so many scenes in just a single hour forces the group to spend all their time on setup, with little room for tension to build. As such, the script has a fundamental struggle with the concept of show, not tell.

This takes its toll at points: climaxes and punch-lines fall flat, arriving before there a chance to become invested in the characters.

Now and again, however, the storytelling breaks through. When the company trust the audience to figure it out without being handed it on a plate, the message really hits home. There are a few gems in this, with perfect balance and execution.

Could the challenge be overcome better? Perhaps. Climaxes often arrive two thirds of the way through a scene; entire sections could have been cut with no loss to the story. If they just gave the stories that need it a bit more time, the production as a whole would benefit.

The facilities and technical work also hold the cast back. Music is often too loud, drowning out the actors as they speak, despite their best efforts, while curtains surrounding the stage absorb much of the speech. Sometimes sound or lighting cuts abruptly, jolting you out of the story that’s being told.


The environment might not be on the performers’ side here, but despite these hurdles, the cast tackles them as best as they possibly can, delivering an outstanding effort. When given the chance, they make you care about what’s going on.

Linzi Devers delivers a standout monologue, portraying an unhinged and multi-dimensional schoolgirl with breath-taking impact in just a few minutes.

Ruby Leslie takes on each of her roles energetically, from spoiled kid to lawyer to pyromaniac, giving each one striking personality and motivation with almost spotless execution.

Lori Stott, Roza Stevenson and Connor Reed also stand out in a crowd of already commendable actors, practically glowing on stage despite their on-going battle with the elements. Despite only having 10 days of rehearsals to explore their characters, the cast make this collection worth seeing.

Very few flaws can be found in the acting ability of this group; it’s just a shame they are forced to punch above their weight to give the performance the impact it aims to achieve. If they were just given the right facilities, and a script which harnessed their full potential, If By Chance would be an outstanding production. Ironically, it leaves the audience pondering at the end “What if…?”

Running time 1 hour (no interval)
New Town Theatre (Venue 7), 96 George Street, EH2 EDH
Thursday 4 – Saturday 13 August 2016. Daily: 10:45am.

This production is not currently listed on the main EdFringe website.

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STMS Website: https://scottishtheatre.uk/
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Comments (1)

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  1. Danielle says:

    Emotional,stunning wake up call to life: If by chance!

    No technical problems today music background added to the storyboard of life events.

    What if ! Go see this show early at venue 7 : 10.45 am
    These stars of the future will be in our hearts for a very long time.