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Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – Edges at Edinburgh Fringe

A student production of a show that began as a student production, Edges is a song cycle written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (of La La Land, The Greatest Showman and Dear Evan Hansen) in 2005, when they were studying at the University of Michigan. If you’ve seen Dear Evan Hansen, you’ll know about Pasek and Paul’s inclination to harness social media to increase a character’s notoriety – and it happens again here, in the form of a musical number inviting friends and acquaintances to join “the Facebook”.

Edges. ©RCS Robbie McFadzean.
Edges. ©RCS Robbie McFadzean.

Eighteen years since the show premiered in Michigan, has it already become a period piece? I don’t just mean the proliferation of other social media platforms in the intervening years, or that if Edges were written today, there’d be content about mental wellbeing and global climate concerns. “Could I be living a life filled with uncertainty?” is not a question the younger generations who have just lived through a global pandemic and its knock-on consequences are asking themselves. Young adults, generally speaking, drink more in moderation, if at all, such that it is less likely that recollections of an evening out with friends would begin with, “We were tipsy / Well, we were drunk”.

That said, other lyrics have increased relevance today, such as “I smile because I need to look strong” – people’s social media personalities can be very different from grim reality. Although originally written for two male and two female characters, this production has gone for an all-female cast (Taylor Frisina, Sophia Holmes, Claire Rob and Lauren Troy), with lyrics adjusted accordingly, accompanied by a three-piece band.

These are, essentially, first-world problems being sung about: one sibling complains the other “won’t play with me anymore”, only for the older one to reply that the younger one “just cries when she can’t get her way”. But the ladies harmonise quite brilliantly, and the driving beats of some of the songs are easy to enjoy. A surprise thirtieth birthday party is put together, and there are certain words that can’t or won’t be spoken – not for nothing is one of the songs called ‘I Hmm You’. It’s hardly groundbreaking material in terms of stories – there are many ways to discover oneself and come of age. The show will strike a chord, if not several, with a lot of people, and its relative relatability and expressions of complex emotions make this a production worth seeing.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Edges is a song cycle about four burgeoning adults asking classic coming-of-age questions. Written by Tony, Oscar and Grammy award winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Dear Evan Hansen, The Greatest Showman, La La Land and Dogfight) in their sophomore year at the University of Michigan, this charming, witty and honest examination of adulthood explores what happens when we are teetering on the edges of our lives.

The songs cover such universal issues as love, commitment, identity and meaning. Characters deal with confronting emotions, escaping expectations, and deciphering complicated relationships.

While the show is written for four performers, Edges can be expanded to include multiple men and women playing a variety of age-appropriate roles. It provides fertile ground for experimental productions, making it a favourite among college and university theatre progammes seeking to challenge their performers with thoughtful material.

5-25 August, 10am
Music and Lyrics – Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
Director: Tom Cooper

@RCStweets
https://www.rcs.ac.uk/

Related News & Reviews Past & Present

  1. Review of New Bard Productions Pasek and Paul’s Edges
  2. Cast Announced for Edges in The Delfont Room
  3. Royal Conservatoire of Scotland presents Big Fish
  4. Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – Little Women
  5. Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – Godspell

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