SOMETIMES, like a karate master striking a brick, a playwright hits on a situation that, in a single movement, unleashes an astonishingly complete vision of the time we live in.
The Granary, Newhaven
Gregory Burke’s 2001 debut play Gagarin Way – revived this week by David McFarlane’s shoestring Black Dingo company at the Granary – is that kind of show, 90 minutes long, played out in real time, and set in a single small storeroom at a computer factory near Dunfermline.
The central characters are good friends Eddie and Gary, both in different ways driven to the end of their tether by the boredom and indignity of their lives. Their victim is Frank, an international consultant inspecting the plant for possible closure, whom they have kidnapped from his hotel room; accidentally caught up in their plan is Tom, a young politics graduate, working as a temporary security guard.
Burke’s brilliant, expletive-studded dialogue snaps and fizzes with wit and despair, as the four men talk their way through the process that has brought them to this point; and McFarlane’s cast – led by an impressive Brian Hill as clever, nihilistic Eddie – make a generally impressive job of delivering Burke’s complex script. In his programme note, McFarlane suggests that times are darker now than in 2001, and that Gagarin Way, once a rallying cry, has become “a death rattle.” But in truth, it was always a bulletin from the blasted political landscape left behind, in places like West Fife, by the death of socialism; and in understanding that backbeat of despair behind the play, McFarlane’s production does it justice, in every way that matters.