Aug 4 2014 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩  All too real

Just at St John’s (Venue 127) Fri 1 – Wed 13 August 2014

Considered and compelling, Black Dingo Productions’ Warrior deals with ingrained sectarianism in a believable way.

Euan Brockie as Evan in Warrior. Photo Sandrine Cazalet

Euan Brockie as Evan in Warrior. Photo Sandrine Cazalet

Teenager Evan has to face the consequences of his ignorance after his arrest for online sectarian abuse. Jen Adam’s impressive script details the reasons behind his outburst and the effect it has on his family.

The set-up of the space at St John’s means the audience cannot help feeling they are in sitting in judgement over the characters, whose stories unfold through a series of monologues with little in the way of interaction. This works much better than it might do, thanks to taut writing and impressive performances.

The play also carefully shies away from the expected. The title might suggest those ‘keyboard warriors’ who lurk in the comments sections of internet news sites – while this is alluded to, it is primarily a reference to the online game where misfit Evan finds refuge until threats to his status lead to his ill-considered outburst.

Sectarian language is also so closely associated in people’s minds with football, particularly West of Scotland football, that it is an astute move to set the story in Perth and make it very clear that Evan has no interest in sport.

“movement and fluidity…”

Euan Brockie is thoroughly convincing as Evan, embodying the secretiveness, surliness, pain and latent anger of the put-upon teenager. Adam Tomkins brings a real truth to Evan’s father Dave, combining wounded pride, bemusement and defensive parental pride in a believable way. Marilyn Wilson’s performance as mother Liz is the most low-key but in many ways the most effective, aided by some very strong writing which helps create a nuanced and entirely realistic character.

Amy Gilmartin’s direction makes clever use of a difficult space and ensures movement and fluidity in what could have been quite a static experience.

Critics of the way legislation against sectarian hate speech has been used have claimed it has been directed primarily against easy targets while ignoring bigger problems. It is certainly possible to take from this play that using a sledgehammer to crack a nut will do nothing to address more serious underlying issues.

It is equally possible to take a completely different view from a play which refrains from moral lecturing – at least until an unsatisfactory ending which seems bolted on and at odds with the judicious writing which has gone before in its predictability. This fails to diminish the impact of a carefully weighed and skilfully staged piece.

Running time 50 minutes
Just at St John’s, St John’s Church, Princes St, EH2 4BJ (Venue 127)
Fri 1 – Wed 13 Aug 2014
Daily at 14.00
Tickets from edfringe.com/whats-on/warrior
Company website: http://blackdingoproductions.wordpress.com/
Just Festival website: www.justjust.org


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