top of page
  • Writer's pictureMaygan Forbes

Goodbye ‘89 review: A Catalyst for Change

**** 4 STARS

One of the many things I love about fringe theatre is being able to discover new stories or moments in time that for a brief split second was able to change the course of a generation. Described as a love letter to the activists of the '80s, Goodbye '89 features the story of six friends who have a charge of bravery and plot to take control over the BBC radio station on New Years Eve. Just as the ball drops signalling the turn of the decade, there plan is to intercept the programme with the truth about publicity surrounding the AIDS epidemic. The truth that is being kept from the public to continue to alienate and make villains of marginalised communities. Six friends with their own story, their own reasons to be apart of a new generation, devoid the old misogynistic crony opinions.

The tale itself is fictional however it celebrates very real activists who risked their own livelihoods, positions in society, friendships , all for a more progressive future. And oh my goodness, this play is utterly heartbreaking. In the best way. I had hoped it was a real story, just so I could spend the best part of my weekend researching every crevice of the people involved. But what it did do, was open up a cage of all unsung activists who maybe aren't the first name that comes to mind but still evoked change in a way that made a difference. Names like Deborah Steinkopf and Cecilia Chung that helped changed the trajectory of a narrative steeped in ignorance.

Devised and Written by new theatre company By The Balls Theatre - consisting of Alice Berry, Martha Caidan, Rebecca Fox, Michaella Moore, Ophelia J. Wisdom, Ellen Trevaskiss - all six actresses star as the group of friends ready to risk it all in the name of change. Each friend has their own personality but they're not superficially written, they're not messy characters written for the sake of filling a story arch, these characters feel real and strong in their delivery of facing challenge. I loved them all and their progression throughout the play felt genuine. The energy on stage is enviable, either an example of how strong the acting is or this is a sextet of a wonderful group of friends

This is a very strong debut for the Clapham Fringe, and holds a great deal of potential for further development. The cast made great use of a small space and made it their own. Every inch of stage was accounted for and the story felt cohesive and well rounded. The writing is funny and fresh, as soon as you enter the audience you feel as though you've stepped foot back in time into the '80's. The stage, adorned with 80's legends and music from the era help create a buzz of authenticity.

I predict great things from By The Balls Theatre, for a debut they've taken cemented their name in the fringe theatre scene and it's heartwarming to see. Goodbye '89 is back again for the Vaults Festival on Sat 18th March and Sunday 19th March at The Cage venue. Please go and see this show if you can, it's new and refreshing, uplifting, emotional, warm and such an important piece of theatre.


Alice Berry - Chelsea

Martha Caidan - Minnie

Rebecca Fox - Beth

Michaella Moore - Harley

Ophelia J. Wisdom - Cam

Ellen Trevaskiss - Staffy

bottom of page