Edinburgh International Festival Theatre

The End of Eddy

Church Hill Theatre

Four sexy boys line up at the back of the stage like pretty maids in a row at the start of this electrically charged adaptation of ÉdouardLouis’ autobiographical novel about growing up gay in an impoverished working class French town, where being a tough guy counts.

The quartet of handsome devils could be the usual suspects in a police identity parade, something the crime scene style tent that is erected by them in the next few minutes in a brief burst of manual labour seems to confirm.

Once things get going in Norwegian director Eline Arbo’s production, however, they more resemble a classic boy band, hanging tough in costume designer Rebekka Wörmann’s streetwise trappings, which can’t help but betray an intent of homo-erotic camp.

Sure enough, the whole gang are singing and dancing within minutes.

This provides a surprising levity to Louis’ brutal rites of passage, which charts a messy childhood of bullying, sexual awakening, more bullying, personal reinvention and eventual liberation en route to becoming a precocious literary superstar aged twenty-one.

An illustration of just how much fun it is comes in a choreographed routine that recalls a similar one from 1980s teen rom-com, Gregory’s Girl.

Performed in Dutch with English supertitles, Arbo’s production for the Netherlands based Toneelschuur Producties (The Theatre Shed) forms part of a three-show EIF residency by International Theater Amsterdam.

Arbo’s adaptation with Thomas Lamers is an audacious affair, with scenographer Juul Dekker’s design and Varja Klosse’s lighting resembling an extended pop video driven by Thijs van Vuure’s chart friendly electronic score.

The boys in the band are Victor Ijdens, Jesse Mensah, Felix Schellekens and Romijn Scholten, who each play Eddy in turn, as well as everybody else as they pass the metaphorical mic, hand in glove with their own adolescent desires. For something so rooted in pain, Eddy’s story is life-affirmingly joyous.

Until August 21 – https://www.eif.co.uk/events/the-end-of-eddy