‘Afterparty’ (New Celts Productions & F-Bomb Theatre) | Review By Rebecca Donati

A fun, female driven play. THIS is what we like to see at the fringe. F-BOMB Theatre is a theatre company based in Scotland. Their aim is for women to make theatre for women and to create a great night out for their audiences. ‘Afterparty’ at The Space Triplex – Jenner Theatre embodies this and they more than achieve their aims. Performed by an all-female cast, written and directed by women, this play resonated with me, I felt seen, I could easily relate to these characters, there was a familiarity about them that felt safe, reminiscent and full of joy.  

‘It’s not a crime to have fun.’ A group of friends celebrates the end of school – and the start of their lives – with a wild night out. What could possibly go wrong? Award-winning playwright Rachel O’Regan asks what makes a bright future in this riotous new comedy. ‘The worlds not made for us. But we can make our own.’ Directed by Hannah McEachern, ‘Afterparty’ is the confetti-covered debut production from women’s theatre company F-Bomb. The only question is: are you ready to party?  

Sally Cairns played the role of Lexi to a brilliant standard, her energy was always sustained throughout the play. She took us on a journey with her character being one of the most likable and joyful to my least favourite character. She played the ambition of Lexi very well, using her body language very effectively to let the audience know how Lexi is feeling. I enjoyed the complication of Lexi as Sally played her as a mature and responsible person, trapped in the body of a stroppy teen.  

Sally Cairns, Emily Pemberton, Kirsten Hutchison & Linzi Devers (Photo – Hannah McEachern)

Linzi Devers played Jess incredibly, I loved the use of her voice as she explores all of her registers when delivering her comedic lines. Linzi had me in stitches with her comedic timing, she played a loveable and relatable character. Despite her brilliant comedic timing, Linzi took every small moment on stage and made them magic. Her facial expressions alone brought a fully realised character bringing Jess to life, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Linzi’s portrayal of Jess. 

Kirsten Hutchison was the life of the party as Corrie. We all have known or do know someone like Corrie and I thought she played it brilliantly. Kirsten was threatening, hilarious and full of confidence. I found Kirsten’s take of Corrie refreshing, playing a salt of the earth type character can be difficult but Kirstens portrayal hit the mark. You saw a fun-loving girl with a heart of gold, unable to break the chains of poverty. Kirsten only let you feel sorry for Corrie’s situation when she wanted to and when she did it broke my heart. Her energy was fantastic, engaging the audience with every word. 

Emily Pemberton had a difficult task playing Rhiannon, being the alternative one in the group she stuck out like a sore thumb making the audience focus on her. I found that Emily did a fantastic job, each move she made seemed calculated, adding to the slyness of her character. She used her body language well to distinguish herself from the “group”. I found that Emily captured the awkwardness really well, her character had a fantastic character arc and she told the story convincingly. A few times Emily’s diction did slip however all things considered it was a brilliant performance. 

Annie Welsh was amazing as Ella, she played this character to a tee, this is another type of character who is relatable. We all have encountered someone like Ella. I found Annie’s vocal work incredible, she was articulate and her tone of voice was fantastic throughout. Ella is the character you expect to dislike however the way that Annie plays her makes her impossible to hate. I thought Annie did a good job of discussing mental health in an appropriate way, she didn’t over exaggerate the acting, she approached the subject maturely, telling Ella’s story.  

Annie Welsh, Kirsten Hutchison, Linzi Devers, Sally Cairns & Emily Pemberton (Photo – Hannah McEachern)

I thought the directing in this piece was spot on, it followed a conventional staging of theatre but the blocking was creative. The style of directing complemented the fast paced, storytelling nature of the play. It felt as though a lot of effort had been made in terms of minute details. One of my favourite parts was the creative use of materials and glitter during the trashing of the school. I found this a very amusing and fun visual representation. In terms of staging I struggled at times to see some of the action when the actors were sat down, however, this was due to where I was sitting and for most will not be an issue in the slightest, this may be something to consider for future venues.  

The writer of After Party Rachel O’Regan has created a loveable play, the use of Scottish slang made this play resonate with me, all too often are we criticized for Scottish slang with it being perceived as “lower class”. I enjoyed that the dialogue reflected the slang that we hear every day, to see that representation on stage was fantastic. Exploring themes like escapism and the working-class ideal of “getting out” of where they came from is often prevalent in Scottish plays. What stood out to me was the rejection of this notion, allowing some of the characters to be happy with their circumstances, unphased by the other girls’ desire to leave. The comedy in this writing was superb. The only criticism I have of the writing would be that I feel like the character of Lexi could have a more in-depth arc when it comes to her desire to leave her hometown. 

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this production and ‘Afterparty’ is a must see at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This production is joyful and a lot of fun to watch. You’ll find yourself relating these characters and their situations to your own life and the play will stick with you. This production being created by an all-female cast and creative team really makes the difference as a female audience member. I look forward to seeing what F-Bomb Theatre does in the future, these women are definitely ones to watch.  

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Buy your tickets for ‘Afterparty’ below:

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/afterparty

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