PPP: The Scaff

Apr 3 2024 | By | Reply More

★★★☆☆   Energetic

Traverse: Tue 2 – Sat 6 Apr 2024
Review by Hugh Simpson

The Scaff by Stephen Christopher and Graeme Smith, the last in the Traverse’s Spring season of Òran Mór’s Play, Pie and a Pint, is performed with a huge amount of dynamism.

Liam, one of a tight-knit trio of football-playing pals, is urged to seek revenge on the school’s star footballer Coco for calling him a ‘scaff’. This is an unforgivable insult, casting aspersions on Liam’s mother’s attempts to provide for him. When the payback comes on the football field, it has unforeseen consequences for all.

Stuart Edgar, Benjamin Keachie and Bailey Newsome. Pic Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Christopher and Smith’s script has a freewheeling, humorous feel. The need for teenage boys to belong while simultaneously fearing intimacy is elegantly shown. The way that young men talk, with the insults that are dished out to friends and enemies often seeming interchangeable, is cleverly evoked.

It is also strong on showing how easily you can be an outcast if you don’t have the latest clothes. The play being set in the 90s, this means garishly coloured shell suits, rather than Liam’s outfit of old Mizunos, two-stripe tracksuit and his big cousin’s hand-me-down hoodie.

terrible patter

Benjamin Keachie is excellent as Liam, fearful and uncomfortable in his own skin. As his sometime friends, Bailey Newsome (Jamie) has a winning line in terrible patter and an awkward braggadocio concealing deep insecurities, while Stuart Edgar has enviable comic timing as Frankie.

Craig Mclean not only convinces as Coco, but turns in an absurdly funny cameo as PE teacher-turned-Head Mr Saltire – a characterisation that uses the broadest of brushes but is horribly recognisable.

Benjamin Keachie and Craig Mclean. Pic Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Director Jordan Blackwood successfully harnesses the energy of the young cast – Edgar, outstanding in the recent Battery Park, and Keachie are still students at the Royal Conservatoire. He also matches the play’s spirit, with the ever-tricky business of football on stage done fluidly and almost balletically.

Like so many PPP efforts, it does try to pack too much in and suffers as a result. The narrative is episodic, and threatens to lose impetus.

Once football was under-represented on stage, now it seems omnipresent. Certainly we do get a whole raft of cliches, and a narrative that veers from the merely cartoonish to the utterly ludicrous.


The play’s conclusion also seems far too convenient, with it becoming evident that (as so often) behind the swearing and apparent cynicism there is a core of old-fashioned sentiment.

At times the writers want to depict real emotions, but always backtrack. Unfortunately – like its characters – when given a chance to confront real issues, the play is happier taking refuge in a joke about genitalia.

This, however, does not spoil a production that is energetic, funny and enjoyable.

Running time: 55 minutes (no interval)
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge St, EH1 2ED
Tuesday 2 – Saturday 6 April 2024
Daily at 1.00 pm
Details and tickets: Book here.

Stuart Edgar, Bailey Newsome and Benjamin Keachie . Pic Tommy Ga-Ken Wan


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