More so than usual, festival audiences are vulnerable to programming hiccups, and you just have to roll with the punches. A scheduling miscommunication between the Fringe team and the venue meant I turned up to review a show starting at 5 which didn’t actually start until 5:30, causing a pile-up of the timetable for the rest of the evening unless I left before the end of the performance.

This unexpected news was broken to me by Fraser Dodds, the writer of the play I had come to review, The Stylish Kids in the Riot, a look at the subculture of football hooliganism. We filled the unexpected gap with a chat that started with Edinburgh-born Dodds telling me that he grew up in and around an environment where football and its hooligan fanbase were much in evidence.

“I was quite young, and you'd see them all wearing their quality clothes and giving it all this, and I always really looked up to that kind of man. I wanted to be like that so much. But the older you get, you realise it's not really like that, and then a few years ago, I thought it would make an awesome play.”

As writer, Dodds’s perspective comes from being amongst a wider group rather than in the thick of the pack, which he describes as including some psychopaths and having an indescribable tribal mentality. Being around them he said, “was just a licence to just have fun, you felt invincible and you felt like nothing was gonna happen to you because you are in such a tight-knit group”.

In reality, we know that it is far from harmless. “In those environments, the banter can go too far, and in a group like that, there's always one boy who is the main brunt of all the jokes, and I was very keen to put that on stage and show people the consequences of that.”

What Dodds does with The Stylish Kids is contribute to the conversation about male mental health, to encourage all young men to talk to each other but also, he says, to be brave enough to listen and not brush issues away with the offer of a beer.

“Don’t tell them that they're fine,” he says. “It's two hard steps: the first is somebody saying that things are not right with them or actually asking for help, and the second is being a real mate to them instead of brushing it under the carpet. It's hard, really fucking hard for some men to do that, so I hope this shows them that they can do that, they can be that supportive.”

The play also looks more widely at friendship and what friendship looks like in a group brought together by a common passion and where hierarchy plays a big part. Toby Beynon, who plays punchbag Sticky, adds, “one of things that stood out for me in the toxicity of the culture is they're so nasty amongst themselves, to each other, not just to other groups and other football fans.”

Benyon is succinctly spot on. Of the half hour I saw of the play, the interaction between the four lads is brutal; be it homophobic, racist or personally humiliating, no insult is left unslung, and the tenor of menace bubbles up convincingly, particularly around bully Callum, played by Dodds. From the terraces, they also up-chuck a hybrid nationalist-misogynist spew to the foreign opposition, of course, no less ugly for being so familiar.

Lighting the touchpaper of this unfettered machismo are alcohol and drugs that equally fuel the violence for which football hooligans have a global reputation, and the four lads’ casual approach to drugs is alarming with its ring of authenticity.

This is not a group you would associate with self-care, which makes another message in the play all the more important: “check your balls,” says Jack Hyland (who plays Josh). We all laugh, but the other three are quick to join in.

“Yes. There are lots of things around men's health that this play amplifies, and checking your balls is a specific one.” That from George Craig, whose character Marco, based on the half-play I saw, has a different side to his character, one that appears capable of both separating and operating heart and mind.

As well as playing Marco, George is a first-time producer with The Stylish Kids in the Riot. He’s enjoyed a relatively shallow learning curve, he says, without particular challenges thanks to the research they did beforehand, although he and Dodds have learnt things that they will do differently next time.

And there will be a next time—they have plans for a London run in the autumn.

For me, The Stylish Kids in the Riot is, it turns out, going to be a game of two halves. The first is funny, moving and compelling, so you will find me in the grandstand for the rematch.

Big thanks to Toby Beynon, George Craig, Fraser Dodds and Jack Hyland for chatting to me in Brighton and for not throwing me out on my ear when I unwittingly encroached on their time after the half. Such stylish gents.