Tom Ratcliffe performs in VELVET at the Pleasance Courtyard, Pleasance That, during August.

  • What is your Fringe show about?

VELVET is a one person show about the complex realities of harassment within the entertainment industry and how far a person is willing to go in order to achieve their dreams. The play follows Ben, an unknown young actor who gets caught up in an inappropriate, internet-based relationship with a senior industry figure; with the promise of furthering his career. The play isn’t solely about the abuse of power but looks at our need for recognition as a society, and how the struggles of being in a highly competitive industry can lead someone down a path they would not expect to take.

  • How many times/many years have you appeared at the Fringe?

This is my third time appearing at Fringe. The first was when I was a young aspiring teen before I trained as an actor. Last year however I was in The Kings Head Theatre's 5 Guys Chillin' at Assembly Roxy.

  • What’s your most memorable moment from the Fringe?

The set of Five Guys Chillin' at Roxy contained a pouffe. This pouffe was popularly known as my dancing pouffe as my character often had to jump up and either dance or deliver monologue standing on the pouffe.

I think you can see where this is going...

On one of my early performances last year I jumped up onto my dancing pouffe which subsequently flipped onto its side from beneath me. I somehow managed to avoid completely faceplanting and ending up falling in a straddling position on top of it.

At the time I told myself it worked as part of the craziness of the piece but, in truth, there is no escaping the fact I simply fell over.

  • What’s the worst thing about the Fringe?

In my experience so far, the worst thing depends on the show you are doing. For example- last year’s had to be the nocturnal nature of the Fringe. I wouldn't be off stage until gone 11pm and because the show’s drug related elements meant snorting a lot of powdered sugar onstage; I would be up until at least three in the morning on a child-like sugar high!

Ubiquitously across all years, there is absolutely no competition. The official worst thing about Fringe officially, is flyering in the pouring rain. Scrubbing the running ink marks from your hands is inevitable at some point in the month.

  • If you were not a performer what would you be doing?

I haven't figured out exactly what it is but I totally imagine myself working in some sort of water sports shack on a hot, secluded beach somewhere. I don't know what it is this shack is supposedly selling, maybe jet skiing or sea kayaking or something along those lines; perhaps even scuba diving!

In my dreams I imagine myself as an incredibly gifted surfer and rounded happy human being/water nymph. In reality I can't even sit on a skateboard...

Let's stick to performing.

  • How do you prepare for a performance?

This is something that has really changed over the years. I used to take myself incredibly seriously pre-drama school and during. I was a face of intense pretentious focus. Then I came to the discovery during my training and after that the most important thing for me before I go on stage is to have a sense of play; a little bit of cheekiness I guess.

Obviously I always warm up where I can (those who've performed in Edinburgh can vouch with me that this is not always entirely possible during the festival) and I remember/tap into the world of the character; but this has to be in a looser way than a rigid, I. Am. This. Person. This. Is. What. I. Need. To. Feel.

I find the above simply adds an extra pressure and limits the chances of being in the moment and enjoying it.

This time is going to be interesting as I am performing on my own! I may have a completely different process this time next year.

  • Favourite thing about being in Edinburgh?

It has to be all the incredible theatre and the atmosphere everyone creates in the city during the festival. It really just does have such a great buzz. The best days are when you get to see incredible, different and interesting show after incredible, different and interesting show. There's such a variety. There's something for every mood!

  • What’s the most Scottish thing you’ve ever done?

Hmm, it's hard to think of something that isn't terribly stereotypical! My sister used to live up between Wick and Thurso so I guess maybe the most Scottish thing I've ever done is when I went sea fishing up off the north east coast.

I can't claim to be the world’s best sea fisher but I caught a solitary macerel and had it for dinner. My brother didn't catch anything other than a sense of disappointment. Bless him.

  • Favourite Scottish food/drink?

I can't lie, it's definitely Irn Bru.

  • Sum up your show in three words?

Brutal, Revealing, Whirlwind.

Show summary

Tom has always dreamt of being a successful actor, and now after years of disappointment he is finally presented with his golden opportunity... and an impossible decision to make. Set against the backdrop of the 2017 #MeToo movement, VELVET explores the complex realities of harassment within the industry and how far a person is willing to go to achieve their dreams. 

Tom Ratcliffe performs in VELVET at the Pleasance Courtyard, Pleasance That, during August. For tickets, please visit

You can follow Tom on Twitter at @VELVETtheplay