This show finished on Monday 15 August 2022, and this page is being kept for archival purposes only.

Fire Signs


Wednesday 03 August - Monday 15 August 2022


Pleasance Theatre


10/9 & 7/6


Lana Stone


‘No, she’s not my sister. Unless you’re speaking astrologically.’

Second year is going to be Bobbie and Emma’s year. They’re not Freshers anymore. They’ve decorated their flat. They’ve made resolutions. And Bobbie’s in love. He’s a poet. Well, he’s an English Literature student with a substantial trust fund, but who wants to get bogged down in that?

Following a sold-out performance at the Festival of New Theatre in Scotland (FoNTS), the EUTC’s Fire Signs follows Bobbie and Emma through a chaotic year, as new boyfriends and ghosts-of-Freshers-past test whether their friendship is really written in the stars.

Cast and Crew


Actor (Daisy) Tess Bailie

Actor (Derek) Ted Ackery

Actor (Emma) Chisha Chanda

Actor (Jules) Otis Kelly

Actor (Toby) Ben Pearson

Costume Manager Holly Smith

Director Bella Taylor

Producer Isabella Fisher Turner

Producer Lana Stone

Stage Manager Eve Lawson-statham

Tech Assistant / Sound Designer Lewis Eggeling

Tech Manager / Lighting Designer Freya Game

Review for Fire Signs -

Thursday 18 August - By Matt Aldridge for Everything Theatre

I was convinced that my best mate from freshers’ week was going to be my best mate for life. His name was Paddy. He chain-smoked like nobody’s business, had a likeable swagger and studied history. I think. I haven’t seen Paddy in around seven years. The real, lasting connections were the ones I made later. People who actually liked what I liked, who I didn’t have to hang around in smoking areas with whilst I refused a drag and coughed away. These later friends were the people I lived with in second year and am still close with to this day. So I can empathise with flatmates Bobbie (Clara Wessely) and Emma (Chisha Chanda), who enter their second year full of hope and intent on having the perfect university experience.

We join the pair at the beginning of the academic year, trying out new clubs and societies: introductory pole-dancing (which has no poles) and an introduction to feminist society (which incongruously asks you refer to ex-members as bitches). The production is packed full of strong sketches like this, lampooning university life.

Ted Ackery is the highlight of a talented cast as he morphs from skit to skit, playing highly-strung yoga instructors, a vape shop proprietor and a disaster date – in all of which he is hilarious. Another fantastic scene, where Bobbie fails completely at flirting with her crush, Jules (Otis Kelly), – a kind of Colin Firth on steroids – as she serves him coffee, is a tight piece of work that Richard Curtis would be proud of. Coupled with some creative staging, the first half of the play has me hooked.

Unfortunately, the promise of these earlier moments is not capitalised on particularly effectively. A meandering script has me wondering what the narrative thrust of the play is as we flit between Emma and Bobbie’s failing relationships. And whilst the comedic bones of the characters are laid nicely, there isn’t quite enough flesh added over the second half to make me feel a great deal of sympathy for them as the piece develops. As a result, the energy of the piece falls away and at times I’m a little bored – a big contrast to the first half.

Fire Signs is full of comedic potential and starts well as a collection of spoof Sally Rooney university sketches. The production manages to capture that unique blend of experience and naivety of university days. Sadly, once the fun of freshers’ week is over, and reality sets in, the rest of term gives us less to be excited about.

Review for Fire Signs -

Friday 12 August - By Anonymous for Deadline News

Written by Lana Stone and directed by Bella Taylor, Fire Signs is the Edinburgh University Theatre Company’s (EUTC) contribution to this year’s fringe festival.

The Festival of New Theatre sellout show follows the story of Bobby (Clara Wessely) and Emma (Chisha Chanda) as they fumble their way through their second year of university.

Throughout the play the two have their friendship tested by their respective love lives in the shape of new boyfriends and freshers’ history.

Fire Signs is brought to the Edinburgh Fringe by the Edinburgh University Theatre Company. Fire Signs is a story of students Emma and Bobby navigating their respective love lives. Bobby falls in love with a trust fund Tory, Jules (Otis Kelly), a poet who seems perfect at first but turns out to be not quite ‘all that’.

Jules leaves Bobby for months in a trip to Canada, ultimately dooming their relationship to become, as their star signs suggested, a short-lived one.

Maybe there is some truth to astrology as much as their PhD friend Toby (Ben Pierson) wants to deny it.

Emma deals with abysmal Tinder dates and explores her crush for Toby, who is in an on-and-off relationship with girlfriend Daisy (Tess Bailie).

Incidentally Emma ends up sleeping with Toby and breaking the two up for good.

All this mixed in with some great comedic moments and characters, often played by Ted Ackery, the show is a delight.

As a great reflection of student life in Edinburgh – filled with classic and accurate student dilemmas – it’s well worth the watch.

The six-fold cast manage to convincingly pull of a number of different roles between them, with each seemingly adding more to the story than the last.

Ted Ackery deserves particular recognition for his plethora of comedic and convincing stereotypes such as crypto bro Joe, Derek the vape shop guy and the all-too-stressed yoga instructor.

With a theme of astrology and young love running clearly throughout, the show is a real credit to the talent within the EUTC.

Attend a showing for yourself to have your funny bone tickled and find out if Emma and Bobby’s friendship is truly written in the stars.

Review for Fire Signs -

Monday 08 August - By Fiona Shepherd for The Scotsman

With their usual Bedlam Theatre home out of commission this Fringe, Edinburgh University Theatre Company haven’t travelled too far – geographically or imaginatively – for this campus tale of sophomores behaving badly, or just typically, as best friends Bobbie and Emma lurch from awkward encounter to mild melodrama in their search for love with astrologically compatible candidates. Lana Stone’s script derives some weak laughs from gentle send-ups of the extra-curricular activities, lifestyle choices and stereotypical characters in the student firmament while the cast oblige with hackneyed portrayals of neurotic ingénues, self-absorbed artistic pseuds and macho boors and bores.

Review for Fire Signs -

Saturday 13 August - By Suzanne O'Brien for All Edinburgh Theatre

Written by emerging playwright Lana Stone and directed by Bella Taylor, the comical play is highly relatable, however it relies a little too much on stereotypes and lacks depth.

The play centres around best friends and flatmates Bobbie (Clara Wessley) and Emma (Chisa Chanda) as they try to navigate their second year of university life.

It starts strongly enough, with energetic flashes of pink light as the two friends join the university pole dancing society, led by an over-enthusiastic instructor, played with great humour by Tess Bailie.

Clearly over-exaggerated and making fun of the many weird social societies that universities have to offer, the scene sets the play up nicely, with a strong sense of hope as the friends discuss their intentions to make this the best year of their lives.

Wessley is an engaging performer and easy portray’s Bobbie’s quirky innocence – she is prone to say little more than she should at the wrong times. She soon meets Jules (Otis Kelly) who fits her five requirements for a boy.

Kelly convinces as the poetry-loving and Shakespeare reciting character, sporting a black turtleneck and Andy Warhol Marilyn Monroe bag. Their relationship and slightly contrasting characters are highly entertaining and provides many laughs.

Meanwhile, the on and off again tumultuous relationship between Daisy (Bailie again) and Toby (Ben Pearson) is explored – although we rarely see them on stage together. In addition, Ted Ackery plays a variety of roles including a vape artist and a random Halloween date, which are equally entertaining.

All of the characters are instantly recognisable stereotypes, which is where most of the humour arises. The characterisation is well done with distinguishing mannerisms and quirks. Holly Smith’s costumes show great attention to detail. It makes the piece easily relatable to an extent – however the stereotypes are very one sided and their lack of character arc means that it is hard to relate beyond surface level.

Short and snappy scenes keep the piece moving at a good pace and the loud energetic music between scenes does well to sustain momentum.

Stone’s ambitious script tries to fit a whole chaotic university year into just one hour. In doing so it can feel rushed and leave you unable to fully process the feelings, actions or emotions of any one character. In addition, the timeline of the piece isn’t always clear as it seems to jump suddenly with only the odd references to time having passed. One minute Jules is in Canada and the next Emma goes home without clear explanation and then returns months later. It might emphasize how fast paced Uni life can be, but it doesn’t flow and is not always easy to follow.

The trivialities of university life are highlighted but it lacks substance. There is a definite sweetness and innocence about the whole play, but it doesn’t delve into the real complexities of being a student just the superficial – boys, love and the endless university societies. Although of course poking fun at the superficial brings comedy, but the inclusion of something deeper could have enhanced the comedy further whilst also having a bit more heart.

There is great potential in Fire Signs, with strong performances throughout from a talented and comical cast. However, both the storyline and characters could be more successful with further development.

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