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Stand By

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

The police radios are crackling even before real life ex cop Adam McNamara's forensic look at life on the thin blue line begins its post Edinburgh Festival Fringe Glasgow run. The audience are wearing ear-pieces, through which can be heard assorted situation reports in need of officers to attend. Onstage, a quartet of Scotland's finest are confined to the back of a van for the night, bracing themselves for action while negotiators attempt to talk down an angry man with a machete in the house next door. In the meantime, life goes on as mundanely as in any other boring job. When things do finally kick off, lives are changed in an instant.

What follows in Joe Douglas' production for his Utter company in association with the Byre Theatre, St Andrews is a warts and all close up of the personal stresses and strains life in uniform can provoke beyond the banter. One minute, Davey and Marty are fighting over the cheese sandwich the last shift have left behind while Chris sorts out his domestic life, both with and without Rachel. The next they're putting on stab vests and giving chase to joy-riders with fatal consequences for all.

The black-humoured interplay between Andy Clark, Jamie Marie Leary, Laurie Scott and McNamara himself as Chris is akin to an old school work play. This is heightened by Kirstin McLean and Ron Donachie, who are heard but never seen. With tension ramped up by way of Kevin Murray's brooding sound design, McNamara and Douglas have created a grittily claustrophobic seventy-five minutes of drama that's so much more than just a cop show.


The Herald, September 11th 2017

ends

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