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Gagarin Way

Dundee Rep
Four stars

The sound of a computer modem whirring its clunky way into the global village at the start of Dundee Rep’s taut revival of Gregory Burke’s debut play may date its turn of the century setting to what now looks like more innocent times. Seen seventeen years on in a world where domestic terrorism and working-class disenfranchisement are both at a premium, the play’s 85-minutes of ideological cut and thrust now looks like a snapshot of a time that might just be the root of the mess we’re in now.

Burke’s play is set entirely on the loading bay of a Fife computer parts factory which by now one suspects will have either been turned into luxury loft apartments or else is about to be destroyed by Brexit. The perfect setting then for the potty-mouthed existentialist lit-crit between Ross Baxter’s security guard graduate Tom and Ewan Donald’s smart tough-guy nihilist Eddie. When Michael Moreland’s unreconstructed romantic leftie Gary turns up with Barrie Hunter’s kidnapped company man Frank in tow, any notions of class war blur into a more scattershot form of engagement.

The quartet of superb performances drawn out by Bissett put three-dimensional flesh on what could easily be rendered as ciphers in what at times resembles a series of bleakly comic routines. In the current global climate, Eddie seems the most immediately recognisable figure, with Donald playing him brilliantly as a flint-eyed and amoral thrill-seeker happy to take unspecified revenge on whatever’s going.

With Frank resigned to his own pointlessness and Tom a pseudo-intellectual whose ideas can be shot down in flames within seconds, it is Gary who is most wounded. Having previously played Tom in the play’s original 2001 production, Moreland here comes of age playing Gary as a sad and slightly desperate figure, a grizzled casualty of his own beliefs with no real appetite for opposition left. With his one chance to make a mark rendered null and void, his revolutionary dreams may be shattered, but he still looks destined to rise again no matter how futile the cause. As with the modem, the future started here. 

The Herald, October 22nd 2018


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