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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me on Twitter at MarkFFisher, WriteAboutTheat and LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.
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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Autobahn, theatre review

Published in The Guardian

Autobahn

Tron, Glasgow
4 out of 5

As we move from car to car in Neil LaBute's series of six two-handers, the road seems to get wider, the possibility of escape more remote and the conversation more disturbing. Performed for the first time in the UK by the newly formed Theatre Jezebel, the Autobahn journey starts off light with a sinister edge, and ends up plain sinister.

The playwright doesn't exactly blame the roads for his catalogue of stalkings, gang bangs and child abuse, but he uses cars – "our bubbles of glass and steel" – to exemplify the social atomisation that lets such things happen. It might not have the misanthropic shock value of the London hits that have earned LaBute his bad-boy reputation, but beneath each of these compelling exchanges lies a dark seam of dysfunctional behaviour.

It would be wrong, however, to give the impression of an evening of gloom and malaise. This is for two reasons. The first is LaBute's spare dialogue, which gives away just enough and no more, meaning you're never certain you've come to the right conclusions, though invariably you have. Autobahn is as much about the keenly observed interplay of the characters – the gaps in communication, the evasions and the status games – as it is about society's ugly underbelly.

The second reason is the production by Mary McCluskey and Kenny Miller, a masterclass in acting. With some parts cross-cast to reveal intriguing gender possibilities, each dazzling performance seems to outshine the last. Sally Reid, with Mickey Mouse ears, shows the psychopath behind the dumb date; Candida Benson is a mess of neurotic tics, as she searches for the words to say sorry; Alison Peebles disguises a night of debauchery behind her shades; and so on, until Johnny Austin delivers a stunning exercise in silence and stillness as his wife, played by Angela Darcy, uncovers his one last terrible secret.

Until Saturday. Box office: 0141-552 4267.

© Mark Fisher 2009

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