Bits 'n' Pieces review: Choose Life?
**** 4 STARS
When three best friends get caught up in an accidental overdose scandal, who will be the one to crack under the weight of public and personal scrutiny? Written by the talented Nathan Scott-Dunn, Bits 'n' Pieces plays homage to the 90s rave scene in Edinburgh (even down to the whirring cassette tape sounds) whilst simultaneously bringing light to the drug epidemic in Scotland and the negligent media coverage surrounding this. What you expect from this show is not what you're going to get; as soon as you enter into what appears to be a disused warehouse by night and a spin studio by day, theres a party happening on stage. And not just any old party, but a rave with all the lights and a DJ (Emma Hussain) - you're called up by some of the actors to join in and have a dance (an introverts nightmare) and just like that, Scott-Dunn transports the audience into his world for the rest of the play.
The stage is shared with the audience and this is one of the most cleverest uses of stage space I have seen during my time at the fringe. Whatever happens between the three boys, the audience are somewhat complicit, at first it seems like a fun immersive theatre experience, but towards the end of the play, you realise that something more sinister is at play. Bits 'n' Pieces above all documents the lack of education surrounding drug usage yet the drive in the media to find a villain when a drug related death occurs feels like a gross injustice is happening. As the audience, we play the unnamed external character in the play: society. And the judgement has an impact on what occurs on stage.
The play feels episodic, the Scottish equivalent to Skins or Misfits, and the stage is adorned with posters exclaiming the age old message "say no to drugs!". The bed and sofas onstage is multipurpose and acts as tools to continue to involve the audience in the play. It's brilliantly directed (Nathan Scott-Dunn and Sands Stirling) and without giving too much away, when action takes place it feels like a dysfunctional dance happening on stage.
Comparing the play to Danny Boyle's Trainspotting feels like a lazy comparison, however there are definitely parts of the film Beats (dir. Brian Welsh) that I was reminded of when watching Bits 'n' Pieces. At its core are three best friends looking to find themselves and be functioning serving members of society. There bond is authentic and they share everything: jokes, experiences and even STD's! Dougie (Sandy Bain) plays the role of the class clown overwhelmingly well, Matty (Calum Manchip) is your charming Jack the lad, and Tommy (Nathan Scott-Dunn) is a mixture of the two whilst also presenting as slightly narcissistic. Scott-Dunn did a great job in carving out three solid characters that draw on the audience's emotions in different ways.
Tommy - Nathan Scott-Dunn
Matty - Calum Manchip
Dougie - Sandy Bain
Kim - Christie Russell-Brown
Mandy - Emily Drewett
DJ - Emma Hussain
Written by Nathan Scott-Dunn
Directed by Nathan Scott-Dunn and Sands Stirling