Stacey Gregg’s play Scorch wins a Fringe First in Edinburgh

Work, inspired by UK case, was written from perspective of a gender curious teenager

 Stacey Gregg won the 2015 Irish Times Theatre Award for Best New Play. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

Stacey Gregg won the 2015 Irish Times Theatre Award for Best New Play. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

 

Stacey Gregg’s play Scorch, produced by Belfast’s Prime Cut Productions, has won a coveted Fringe First Award in the final round of awards for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Judged by the reviewers of the Scotsman, the most influential newspaper in Edinburgh during the festival season in August, the Fringe Firsts are awarded specifically for new writing.

It brings benefits beyond the handsome plaques that are presented to a handful of winners each week: the effect of the award is usually felt most keenly at the box office and in generating a further international life for winning productions.

First staged last autumn in Belfast as part of the Outburst Queer Arts Festival, and winner of the 2015 Irish Times Theatre Award for Best New Play, Gregg’s monologue was hailed by the Scotsman as “beautifully observed”.

Inspired by a real UK court case and written from the perspective of a gender curious teenager named Kes, who is accused of deceiving a friend into an intimate relationship, it is directed by Emma Jordan and performed in the round by Amy McAllister.

In the play, gender codes are subtly laid bare: Kes, a young girl who identifies implicitly as a boy, is an online gamer, well versed in sci-fi movies - watching “through the dude’s point of view” - and the alternative identity allowed by Internet avatars. “She thinks I’m a guy,” Kes says of an online acquaintance. “And I don’t correct her.”

Kes is already going places - as winner of the Holden Street Theatres’ Edinburgh Award, Greggs’ play is now headlining the Adelaide venue in February next year.

Among other Irish successes at the Edinburgh Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world, is Al Porter, whose current show At Large has been nominated for Best Comedy Show at the prestigious Edinburgh Comedy Awards.

Other stand outs, such as Emmet Kirwan’s Dublin Oldschool and Thisispopbaby’s High Heels in Low Places, have gathered a constellation of five-star rated reviews from the international media.

Irish audiences will have an opportunity to see Scorch as it tours Ireland this September and October, with another of Stacey Gregg’s plays, Override, making its Irish premiere at this year’s Tiger Dublin Fringe.