theSpace @ Surgeons Hall, Edinburgh – until 27 August 2021
Guest reviewer: Diana Miranda
Welcome to the madhouse, a place of chaos and confusion, typical of student house-sharing. A group of six friends gives a bittersweet glimpse of early adulthood, a path as messy as the kitchen table around which they party, study, and share their stories.
In a little less than an hour, this new piece by M Craig manages to squeeze in topics from sexual orientation and pregnancy scares, to diversity in universities, pierced by dating, career ambitions, and debt. The show gives snapshots of each issue without elaborating too much and focuses on some points more than others, but not in a shallow way. Madhouse presents each character’s life as if pointing at the tip of an iceberg: brief accounts nonetheless suggest depth to each story. However messy the students’ lives, the show runs smoothly, and the cast has incredible chemistry. They are all in the best of shapes and bring each character to life with great authenticity.
This show lays out the broad range of concerns with a tone both humorous and straightforward, no melodrama implied. Yet, despite the confusion of navigating the burdens in contemporary youth, Madhouse is also a place of comedy and heart-warming friendship. It conveys the fears of unrequited love and of wasting life’s golden years as much as the amusement of mocking social media influencers and the effects of a ‘special’ brownie snack.
There is a sense that this Madhouse is the beginning of something larger. It introduces the characters, rocks their boats a little, and ends when we’re invested in the journey. I would gladly follow the story of these uni students further down the road. Hopefully there will be more to come later, perhaps after a summer break. In the meantime, Madhouse is a show not to miss.