Gagarin Way

Aug 18 2015 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩    Electric energy

theSpace on the Mile (Venue 39): Sun 9 – Sat 29 Aug 2015

There is real promise – and much that is already very good – in New Celts and Mindframe’s Gagarin Way at theSpace on the Mile.

Gregory Burke’s 2001 hit is about a kidnap at a Fife factory, intended as a political statement, that does not go as planned. It remains a tightly constructed, darkly humorous and thought-provoking work, that is certainly done justice here.

Jack Reid Borland and Stewart Kerr. Photo: Mindframe

Jack Reid Borland and Stewart Kerr. Photo: Mindframe

Eddie, a factory worker who is participating in the kidnap not out of any political motivation but simply because of a liking for violence and chaos, is the play’s dominant character.

Thoroughly troubling in his amoral, almost psychotic humour, he is a caricature, but not much of one, and in the right hands can be extremely effective. Stewart Kerr’s electric performance here is both repellent and enthralling, spitting words out nineteen to the dozen, scarily cartoonish but entirely recognisable.

Kerr would appear to be an actor of real promise, and the rest of the company have problems matching him. Jack Reid Borland’s just-graduated security guard Tom is convincingly naïve, but he needs a little more stage experience to be more at home when he is not talking.

James Garvock’s disillusioned ex-Union firebrand Gary has the appropriate level of anger and fear, but he cannot quite carry off the side of the character worn down by the requirements of work and family.

fizzing energy

Frank, the kidnap victim who is not exactly what was expected, is played as strangely wide-eyed and Bertie Wooster-ish by Alex Dickson, which does not quite fit in with the character’s fatalism. The youth of all of the cast also means that the representation of different generations, and different stages of a working life, that was so effective in the play’s original production, does not really come off here.

Nevertheless, as an ensemble, they work together extremely well, and there is enough fizzing energy and surprising grace in Steph Smart’s direction to suggest that she too has real talent.

This production reinforces that the apparently vastly changed political landscape in Scotland may not have altered much deep down. Far from being a period piece, it still has a great deal to say, and effective productions such as this one reinforce this fact.

Running time 1 hour 10 minutes
theSpace on the Mile (Venue 39), 80 High St, EH1 1TH
Sunday 9 – Saturday 29 August 2015
Odd dates only at 4.05 pm
Book tickets on the EdFringe website:

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