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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, March 18, 2010

Battery Farm theatre review

Published in the Guardian

Battery Farm

Oran Mor, Glasgow
3 out of 5

It is the democrat's dilemma: what if, having given someone a voice, you don't like what they have to say? That is the situation faced by Kate in Gregory Burke's apocalyptic comedy, a lunchtime collaboration between the Traverse theatre and the Play, a Pie and a Pint series. Kate is an undercover activist who has infiltrated a futuristic "contentment facility" in which old people are stored in life-support units before being fattened for human consumption. While freeing the occupant of row NN, pod 777, Kate is alarmed to discover he was responsible for the death of the environment.

The role is underwritten by Burke and overplayed by Denise Hoey, so the idea does not go very far. But it is typical of the author of Black Watch and Gagarin Way that, even in a piece of whimsical sci-fi silliness, he will throw in such a big ethical problem.

Using the symbol of the serpent eating its own tail, Burke presents a vision of a self-destructive human race that will make any number of moral compromises for the sake of personal gain. The idea of a society that recycles its own flesh in high-end restaurants is darkly funny – especially in David MacLennan's production, where the audience is cast as the pod-bound pensioners – but it is also a satirical comment on a species even now burning up its own future.

The lab operative James is played by novelist Alan Bissett, who has a natural ear for Burke's comic rhythms even if he sometimes lacks physical authority. No such problem for Andy Gray as row NN, pod 777, who enhances Burke's verbal wit with his trademark double-takes and gives us the best orgasm scene since When Harry Met Sally.

Until Saturday. Box office: 0844 477 1000. Then touring.

© Mark Fisher

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