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Kill Johnny Glendenning

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars
Wannabe gangsters take note. It's unlikely that anyone will ever be
able to take you seriously again after DC Jackson's scurrilous comedy
set in the mankiest of Ayrshire pig-farms. Here, would-be good fellas
Dominic and Skootch are holed up with tabloid hack Bruce as the mother
of all shoot-outs accidentally ensues. When smooth-talking MacPherson
turns up, his patter is just a curtain-raiser to what happens when
emigre Ulster Loyalist Johnny Glendenning finally shows face.

If this sounds like standard sub-Hollywood tough guy fare, Jackson's
play is delivered with such potty-mouthed filter-free glee as it piles
up the bodycount that it becomes both shocking and hilarious. While it
is a study too of West Coast of Scotland machismo and the perceived
glamour of being part of a gang, Jackson’s dialogue is peppered
throughout with the geekiest of pop cultural detritus. Computer games,
mobile phone apps, the restorative powers of Aswad, British reggae and
Transcendental Meditation and at least two references to Dad's Army are
all in the mix.

Director Mark Thomson kickstarts the Royal Lyceum's new season with a
bang in this co-producton with the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow that takes
no prisoners with a piece of work that makes Martin McDonagh's output
look well-behaved. With electrifying turns from David Ireland as
Johnny, Paul Samson as MacPherson and a scene-stealing cameo from Kern
Falconer as Auld Jim, a farmer straight out of Viz comic, the first
act's display of baroque grotesquerie  could stand alone as a one-act
piece.

Just when you're wondering who's still alive to take the action any
further, however, things take a structural lurch backwards a la
Reservoir Dogs in a second act that takes place in Bruce's flat. Here
we see the back-story to events in the first act, plus a happy ending
of sorts as Dominic's heavily pregnant moll Kimberly takes
centre-stage. Joanne Thomson comes into her own here as Kimberly,
sparring manically with Steven McNicoll's hangdog Bruce while Philip
Cairns' Dominic and Josh Whitelaw's Skootch look on in a fast and
furious piece of comic myth-making to die for.

The Herald, September 22nd 2014


ends

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