UCS pupils take hard-hitting production of Junk to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Students from University College School are taking a production of Junk to the Edinburgh Fringe Fest

Students from University College School are taking a production of Junk to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival - Credit: Archant

A group of sixth formers at a Hampstead school are taking the sights and sounds of north London to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for their latest production.

Junk lead actor Paddy Echlin and co-producer Jess Bernberg

Junk lead actor Paddy Echlin and co-producer Jess Bernberg - Credit: Archant

The 16 to 18-year-old students from University College School (UCS), Frognal, will be performing an adaptation of Melvin Burgess’ acclaimed novel Junk at the arts festival this month.

Students from University College School are taking a production of Junk to the Edinburgh Festival

Students from University College School are taking a production of Junk to the Edinburgh Festival - Credit: Archant

The hard-hitting interpretation tackles the relationship between teenagers and adults in a middle-class small town setting, as well as smoking, alcohol, drugs, theft and prostitution.

Jess Bernberg, UCS pupil and co-producer, said: “It has always been my dream to take a play up to the Edinburgh Festival and for people to see something I’ve helped to create.

“It’s a really emotive adaptation. It conveys how kids can be bored by the often patronising adult word, but it also shows how quickly children can be caught up in dangerous activities.”


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The 12 cast members were required to endure an intense, Shakespearean-style rehearsal schedule in June and July, owing to the late finish to the A-level exam period this academic year.

“It was all ‘very UCS’ really,” said Jess, 17, who lives in Harman Drive, Fortune Green. “We had some 13-hour rehearsals, which were rather intense. There was no air conditioning, but the banter remained excellent.

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“We are really lucky to have the chance to do something as big as the Edinburgh Fringe at such a young age.”

The UCS drama department has an accomplished repertoire of avant-garde and witty productions, including Julius Caesar set to the music of Bruce Springsteen and Dodgeball: The Musical.

The most recent play, which took place at the school’s Great Hall, was a dramatic reading of GCSE set-text An Inspector Calls and was attended by notable critics including BBC presenters Fiona Bruce and Tom Sutcliffe.

Junk lead actor Paddy Echlin, 17, of Camden Town, said: “It’s great to work at a school where drama is taken so seriously and we are given the opportunity to show our ability in a variety of ways.” He added: “Assuming everyone behaves themselves in Edinburgh, we hope to give the school a good name.”

* The stage adaptation of Junk is at Edinburgh Festival Fringe C (+3) venue 34 until Saturday.

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