Monday, 13 May 2013

Over The Wire


Tron Theatre, Glasgow
4 stars
It looks like the end of the world in Seamus Keenan's blistering new 
play, which Derry Playhouse brought to the Tron's Mayfesto season last 
week. Either that or some latter-day social experiment for reality TV 
or a venue for extreme sports. In fact, the barbed-wire topped cage 
that confines five men in what looks like a burnt-out scrap-yard is a 
dead-ringer for Long Kesh in 1974 after the County Down-based prison's 
IRA prisoners torched it during riots.

The five men now appear to occupy some approximation of a Beckettian 
wasteland, in which they attempt to keep up a notion of army 
discipline, even as they survive on scraps while sleeping in the most 
makeshift of shelters. Three of them, Barry, Colin?? and pretty-boy 
Dutch are volunteers. Dee is notional leader, with Lucas his brutal 
number two. Beyond the macho banter and dedication to the cause, the 
claustrophobic living conditions create an uneasy tension that turns to 
suspicion, paranoia and inevitable violence.

Making an overdue return to his theatrical roots after a successful 
career making gritty TV and film, director Kenny Glenaan captures the 
full light and shade messiness of the situation the men find themselves 
in. Scenes are short, sharp and sometimes shocking, with Keenan's 
script illustrating the pains of confinement with a gimlet-eyed lack of 
sentimentality devastatingly portrayed by a fine ensemble cast. Seen up 
close in the Tron's tiny Changing House space, such relentless 
intensity also captures the ideological civil war of the period in all 
it's merciless brutality. If you treat men like animals, it suggests, 
that's how they'll behave when they fight back.

The Herald, May 13th 2013

ends

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