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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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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Gagarin Way, theatre review 2

Published in The Guardian

Gagarin Way – review

Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline

 Three stars3

As the mighty Black Watch nears the end of its latest tour of duty, it is good to be able to revisit the play that made Gregory Burke's name 10 years ago. This is especially so because Rapture theatre's production kicks off in the place Gagarin Way is set. There is a special pleasure in hearing actor Jordan Young deliver Burke's Fife patter with such easy assurance to an audience familiar with the rhythms and cadences the playwright captures so well. It's hard to imagine the gag about Leven, 20 miles up the road, going down as well anywhere else on this UK tour.

The Dunfermline audience also understands that Burke's premise is rooted in reality. This is a factory heist comedy about four men who are, very specifically, the sons and grandsons of Fife miners. They exist in a modern-day world of outsourcing and globalisation, but they also know that only a couple of generations ago, the nearby mining village of Lumphinnans was dubbed Little Moscow because of its communist affiliations. To this day, there is an early-1960s suburban street called Gagarin Way in honour of the Soviet cosmonaut.

It means that underlying the caustic comedy of a less-than-competent kidnap attempt is a soul-searching drama about the need for a political identity in changed times. None of the men has the answer; not the old-school revolutionary, not the violent nihilist, not the wishy-washy politics student and not the reluctant global capitalist.

The play's only frustration is that it is the nihilist who appears to win, making the ending seem politically unresolved. This is particularly true in Michael Emans's production, which has a strong feel for Burke's comic exchanges, but too little sense of dramatic urgency, leaving us unconvinced about the necessity of his brutal conclusion.

© Mark Fisher 2011

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