Gagarin Way


Dundee Rep Ensemble presents

Script: five-stars Stagecraft: five-stars Performance: five-stars    

A bungled kidnapping leads by way of a crisis of belief to a violent climax. Curtains up on a warehouse loading depot late at night and an odd couple are debating the pros and cons of French existentialism, Jean Genet and criminality as a career choice. With some of the bluest but funniest dialogue that could be straight out of an Irvine Welsh, Gregory Burke’s one act play at the Dundee Rep delivers a black comedy that just gets darker and deeper as it gets funnier.

Tom, the callow young security guard, played by Ross Baxter, is fresh from university and certain that he’s bound for a career in finance (he’s applied for five jobs so he’s sure to get one of them). He thinks he’s facilitating a little bit of industrial theft organised by his ne’er-do-well companion – some computer chips going out the back door sans paperwork. Baxter’s innocent stooge is nicely played and endearing, with some first class comic flourishes. You get the feeling that, as Eddie says, he’ll be doing the same job in twenty years time.

His companion Eddie, however, is up to something far more unsavoury. Slowly it becomes clear that Eddie really is a bit of a bad lad. Have a strong stomach as the laughs lead to a triumphantly bloody climax. Set in post-industrial Silicon Glen of the nineties, an industry that grew in the wastelands left behind by the dismantling of mining and heavy industry in the central belt of Scotland, Burke’s superb play takes on big issues about belief, masculinity and what’s left to guide us when ideologies fail.

When Eddie’s friend Gary, played by Michael Moreland, appears and the true reason for the evening’s preparations unfolds, the real comic horror begins. Gary, the anarchist-come-socialist-come-revolutionary wants to make a show-killing of a Japanese tech boss, to spark an uprising of the electroproles in silicon Glen. If he provides the body, Eddie will provide the violence. However, he bungles the kidnapping, and instead of an unconscious Japanese salary man they might have to kill what looks like an American, or a Belgian, or perhaps he’s Flemish. It’s hard to tell the nationality of a blackjacked stiff. Never mind, a killing is a killing.

Of course, the problem with violence is that it’s a difficult beast to control. Once you let the dog off the leash it has a nasty habit of biting back. Ewan Duncan is masterful as Eddie, inhabiting violence in every line of speech and gesture, sneering at his companions and the values they stand by. At one point he jumps onto the loading bay, shadow sparring with his weapon of choice – a flick knife. He’s silhouetted against the roller doors by the stage lights, and his shadow is that of a rebel without a cause, a latter-day James Dean. Duncan’s viciously comic dog in the manger is a delight if you love a bit of uber-violence, with a Scots twang.

There is a great deal of food for thought inside this fast-paced, funny and thrilling offering from Dundee Rep. Don’t miss this one.

Mark Mackenzie


Posted on October 22, 2018, in Scotland. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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