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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. Andrews chapter.

Emery Schaffer’s bristling 45 minute play I Hope It All Burns premiered at The Barron in the Byre Studio recently under the expert guidance of director Vee Campbell. With a restrained set and costume design and distinct artistic choices, I Hope It All Burns offers an immersive theatrical experience, one which embarks on a beautifully tender yet ferocious emotional experience.

The play follows two women, Isobel (Alexandra Upton) and Margaret (Phoebe Dobie) facing charges of murder and witchcraft after a young woman named Katherine (Emery Schaffer) falls into an unexplained catatonic state. Throughout its short runtime the play explores themes of womanhood, grief, homophobia, patriarchal oppression, and alienation, weaving these ideas into a complex tapestry which the performers handle with grace and care. Upton’s Isobel is an honest portrayal of a woman on the brink, desperate in her actions and their inevitable consequences. She plays the role with a delicate maturity, offering a realistic portrayal of a young woman caught in the clutches of unwanted motherhood and unimaginable circumstances. Dobie’s Margaret is a wonderfully humorous depiction of a crazy recluse, a performance which offers a bubbling cauldron of disdain, envy, and deep-seated pain underneath it. Schaffer’s haunting performance of Katherine is at once disturbing and heartbreaking. Together the three performers weave together an emotionally fraught and fulfilling viewing experience.

The show is grounded by an inventive lighting design brilliantly executed by Shona M’gadzah, frequently shifting the story between flashbacks and intense court-room interrogation scenes starkly lit by a single spotlight. The movement of the actors is sharp and deliberate, demonstrating a strong sense of stagecraft from Campbell. The use of a traverse stage layout provides a unique level of intimacy and voyuership to the piece. Overall, I Hope It All Burns provides an emotional punch in its very short runtime, creating a vibrant and interesting work which demonstrates the wonderful breadth of student talent St Andrews theatre has to offer.

I am a fourth year philosophy student at the University of St Andrews. Besides angrily debating at parties whether or not triangles exist, I enjoy watching movies, cooking too much pasta, and getting lost in local bookstores.