‘Class Act’ (Traverse Theatre) | Review By Rhona Williams

Class Act truly lived up to its name last night for its debut performance at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. The fantastic piece showcased the phenomenal work of pupils from five secondary schools across Edinburgh (Broughton High School, Craigmount High School, Craigroyston Community High School, Forrester High School and Royal High School). The short stories, scripts, films, songs and scenes created by these pupils were performed by professionally trained actors including Greg McHugh, Manjot Sumal, Martin Donaghy, Hannah Donaldson, Chloe Ann Taylor, Laura Lovemore, Shyvonne Ahmmad and Elena Redmond.  

The short pieces took the audience on a rollercoaster of emotions from sheer hilarity to heartbreak. The beautiful imagination displayed from these young people was completely magnificent and allowed for the audience to unleash their inner child through side splitting comedy, whilst also remembering some of the challenges and pains of growing up. At points the work was so nuanced, thought-provoking and mature, that you had to take a moment to digest the fact that none of this writing was written by anyone over the age of 18.  

The stories were told through various forms of media: short sketches, spoken word, short films (created by Gregory Barklay), animation (created by Holly Jameson and Emily Chambers) and music (performed by VanIves) with seamless and appropriate transitions. The multi-media nature of the show kept the audience thoroughly engaged throughout the performance and brought these already splendid stories to life.  

The magic of these short pieces was coupled by the adult interpretation of them by the actors, who appropriately released their brilliant characterisation talents. There were clearly some stories within the sketches that you could tell were written by younger members of the secondary schools, and the raw energy and sheer enthusiasm that the actors brought to these pieces was magnetic. It took the audience back to their childhood where storylines need not make absolute sense to be fantastic stories! Alongside this, the more mature pieces were subtly and simply brought to life, allowing the audience to truly digest the content and unfiltered words.  

From an unqualified Zookeeper and his dancing bear, to a terminally ill patient, to superhero’s, to drunken nights out, to a ghost cat falling in love with a personified chair (I know…), the whole performance was engaging and an absolute treat to watch.  

Every single person involved in this production should be immensely proud of their work. It is an absolute testament to giving a voice to young people and encouraging creativity from a young age. I can’t wait to see Class Act return next year.  

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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