“After the Act”, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

After The Act (A Section 28 Musical)
Traverse Theatre – Traverse 1
10:00, 13:00, 16:00, 19:00, 22:00
1 hour 30 minutes
To 27 August  (not 21)

17 August 2023
Maggie Rose in Edinburgh


The play focus on Section 28. This was an umbrella term for a set of legislation in Britain under Margaret Thatcher that prohibited the “promotion of homosexuality” by local government with interpretation of the word “promotion” causing immediate problems and the very essence of the initiative becoming a byword for prejudice. 

Organizations involved with gay, bisexual and transgender people were obliged to limit their activities when the law came into force in May 1988. It was repealed in England and Wales in 2003 having been taken off the statute here in Scotland in 2,000. In part, the genesis of the law was a story book entitled Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin whose aim was to inform children about how family set-ups can differ. 

Writer-performer Ellice Stevens and writer-director Billy Barret explore the impact the act had on the lives of those young people who grew up in the 1990s. The play is a little hybrid in its format but all the better for mixing verbatim theatre components with an original score and songs by Frew.  

The members of Breach Theatre were not alive when Section 28 was passed. The 15 years it was in force had a damaging impact on the generations that grew up under its influence, an impact that may well be having a ripple effect.  

Showing deep insight into the issue and a general outlook of empathy which includes an understanding of the contemporary context, the two writers have used verbatim testimony, parliamentary transcripts (Hansard) and news reports.  

The seamless merging of testimony in people’s own words from the time with music and song allows the four performers to convey the political message while at the same time producing a highly entertaining show.  As with many pieces at this year’s fringe festivals, the title is well chosen with an ambiguity that sets us thinking.