In Everglade Studio

Aug 22 2023 | By More

★★★★☆       Sweltering

Assembly George Sq The Box (Venue 8): Wed 2 – Mon 28 Aug 2023
Review by Hugh Simpson

In Everglade Studio is a tuneful, tense and entertaining production from Black Bat Productions in The Box at Assembly George Square.

Black Bat’s shows may no longer strictly qualify as a ‘Made in Edinburgh’, but the company was. Their work is always worth seeing and this may well be writer-director Nathaniel Brimmer-Beller’s most impressive piece to date.

Everglade Studio is set in a dingy underground recording studio in 1974 London, where British singer Skye (Alyth Ross) is recording her – distinctly Southern USA flavoured – music with the aid of accompanist Baron (Aveev Isaacson), under the watchful eye of cynical manager Clarke (Brimmer-Beller himself). Clarke has invited Black British singer Matilda (Hannah Omisore) to add what he keeps referring to as ‘soul’ to the music.

Hannah Omisore, Alyth Ross, Aveev Isaacson and Nathaniel Brimmer-Beller. Pic Black Bat

The atmosphere in the studio however, as a result of both prejudice and something about the building itself, takes a distinctly sinister turn. As was the case with previous Black Bat productions, there is both a polished surface – this works well as a thriller – and a profound undercurrent.

The way that rock and roll, originally a Black form, was appropriated and re-packaged for white audiences, is always in the background, as is the way that all art is commodified and monetised. In the case of pop music, this led to strict segregation on grounds of race and gender – Sly and the Family Stone’s line-up was a complete outlier in the 60s and 70s, while Prince and the Revolution’s personnel excited comment even in the 80s.

Brimmer-Beller’s script fairly fizzes with astute observation, a knowing eye for both social structure and the absurd; wry humour and downright nastiness. His direction is taut and full of atmosphere – the feeling of claustrophobia is not solely confined to the script, with the play literally being staged in a shipping container.


This is helped by the performances of an excellent cast. Ross and Omisore both have tremendous voices and are compelling as two characters who both have more than one side to them. Skye’s identification with another culture while being ignorant of all its facets, and Matilda’s eagerness to be discovered mixed with genuine unease, are cleverly portrayed. Isaacson’s downtrodden musician and Brimmer-Beller’s entrepreneur with his eye constantly on the bottom line, are also excellently judged performances.

Isaacson (music) and Brimmer-Beller (lyrics) also provide the original songs, which go well beyond pastiche and are hugely attractive in their own right. Although not billed as such, this has more (and more impressive) such content than many shows described as musicals.

Alyth Ross, Hannah Omisore and Aveev Isaacson. Pic Black Bat

While most of the narrative is skilfully handled, there are a couple of less secure moments. The opening voiceover sets the scene economically; a later example has too much exposition and strikes a false note. There are also a couple of anachronistic notes – the word ‘Americana’ was not used as a music genre before the 1990s, and Skye’s music would more likely have been described as ‘country-rock’ in 1974. Which is also about forty years too early for anyone to talk about a track ‘dropping’ when it is released.

These are minor criticisms, however; what counts here is the compelling nature of the production and the energy it contains. The recording session portrayed may be ill-fated, but Black Bat have certainly got another hit on their hands,

Running time: One hour and 5 minutes (no interval)
Assembly George Square (The Box), George Sq, EH8 9LH (Venue 8)
Wednesday 2 – Monday 28 August 2023
Daily at 1.00 pm
Tickets and details: Book here.

Black Bat Productions links

Instagram: @blackbatuk

Twitter: @BlackBatUK

Facebook: @BlackBatUK


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  1. NPRU says:

    Spot on review! It is a wonderfully tense, claustrophobic production with brilliant music that the audience applauded after one of the songs when I saw the show. Alyth is superb as Skye (great performances from everyone else too).
    My highlight of the pot luck element of the shows I took in at the Fringe. Hope Nat wins the BBC prize and this can become a film!