Gagarin Way

Thursday, 7 March, 2002

Scottish Writer Gregory Burke’s debut play, which transferred from the Edinburgh Festival to the National Theatre for two runs last year, has now transferred to the West End for a 6 week run.

This Traverse & Royal National Theatre co-production is a funny, yet violent and bloody play concerning politics, globalisation and self-delusion. It flows at a rapid pace with some intellectual thought provoking dialogue that is both amusing and fascinating.

The drama starts with a young security man, Tom helping labourer Eddie in what he believes is the stealing of computer chips. However, what Eddie is really doing is waiting for his partner Gary, to bring a kidnapped executive to the warehouse where they plan on ‘executing’ him. But, when the security guard accidentally discovers the truth he finds himself implicated in the scheme and if he does not go along with it he will find his own life in jeopardy.

This existentialist drama begins with the discussing of Sartre and ends in meaningless violence. Gary, who is seeking justice for workers from their capitalist bosses, despairs that the apathetic masses will ever arise in revolution and so decides that he needs to provoke a response that will cause the working class to eventually wake up and throw off their chains of oppression. His attempts to defend his decision to murder an executive develop into a discussion on exploitation and autonomy. Are we free to pursue our dreams of a better world or are we all destined to sell out to greed and the glittering mesmerising trophies of capitalism? The play’s violent conclusion is a fitting metaphor for the futility of life in a society based on greed and self-interest.

The acting is of the highest order. Michael Nardone is thoroughly fascinating as the mysterious and violent, yet disturbingly likeable Eddie. Billy McElhaney is also believable as the ‘deluded’ socialist come anarchist Gary. John Stahl, as the kidnapped executive Frank, and Michael Moreland as the young security guard Tom are also both convincing.

Lasting just 1 hour and 30 minutes without an interval, this play is not for the faint hearted or those with a nervous disposition. But, otherwise you’ll find it is a sharp and gritty drama.

(Darren Dalglish)

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