Review: "Propeller"at The Pleasance Courtyard during the Edinburgh Fringe

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Lewis Baird

  • United Kingdom Theatre Critic

In this modern age, we see younger generations become disengaged with the world around them. Rather than focusing and talking about important issues, they would rather discuss who won Love Island, what the Kardashians named their latest child and boast about the latest snapchat filter. However, at the Edinburgh Fringe, the Scottish Drama Training Network’s ensemble have devised a brilliant piece of theatre with their director, Caitlin Skinner, which emphasizes that the younger generation should feel empowered to make a move if they feel dissatisfied on issues that matter to them. 

Propeller follows eight teens who are attempting to extend the railway back into their rather ran down town, Levenmouth, so they can get out of town and into Edinburgh. It features, hilarious comedy, brilliant physical theatre segments and a fantastic reimagining of a George Michael classic. 

The main thing that drives this brilliant play, is it’s cast. The SDTN ensemble are handpicked talent from colleges/drama schools within Scotland, and the standard of performing here is outstanding. This programme is a brilliant way of giving Scotland’s future talent a platform. Each and every member of the cast grasp this opportunity. The ensemble comprises of Cindy Awor as Julie, Ross Donnachie as Hamish, Owen Cummins as Brodie, Lottie Cuthbert as Helen, Isla Fairfield as Alice, Rachael Keiller as Sam, Sophie MacClean as Emma and Poppy Smith as Clare. They all show a diverse range within their acting skills, throwing themselves into the naturalism of the piece, flawless comic timing and also able to pull the audiences in with the tense atmosphere of the movement pieces. This rests us assured that Scotland’s theatres have a very exciting future ahead of them.

Caitlin Skinner as director has clearly collaborated efficiently with her ensemble of young actors to make sure that the piece represents their age group accurately. There is certainly a theme of minimalism within the direction, however, for the venue, the text and also how flexible the ensemble are, it 100% works. I love how she has embraced the ensemble’s ideas and accommodates their strengths and weaknesses, to make the piece the best it can be.

The comic side of this story is hilarious, Hamish (Ross Donnachie) supplies some of the funniest moments with his side-splitting comic timing. Also, Owen Cummins portraying Maggie Thatcher in one of the movement sequences was bizarre, but you will be crying with laughter. Sam and Alice (Rachael Keiller and Isla Fairfield) supply one of the most emotional moments of the play, describing their feelings of witnessing a homeless woman begging. It hit the audience rather hard, seeing as in Edinburgh, the number of people living on the street is rising. And the dialogue, was honest and raw for the audience. However, these are just some highlights for me. The best sections of this piece are when the full ensemble work together, showing moments of empowerment and potential.

This piece is important as it is a message to young people to get off their arse and do something about issues that are bothering them. Not only is it important because of the storyline, but also because it features an ensemble which represent Scotland’s actors of the future. The Scottish Drama Training Network are supplying Scottish acting graduates a great platform, and it’s great to see these young actors grasp the opportunity to perform at this great festival. For me this production was 5/5 stars because of the storyline, direction, creativity and talent that it features. 

★★★★★

Catch Propeller at The Pleasance Courtyard during the Edinburgh Fringe! Get tickets below:

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