Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Gagarin Way" - March 2011

How good was this show? That's an easy one to answer. Due to scheduling difficulties we had to drive two hours through snow and sleet to St Andrews to see it at the Byre Theatre. And two hours through mist and rain back home again. But even with a dodgy sat-nav inspired detour to Dundee, we don't grudge one minute of the drive. It was that good.

Yes, you could make a case that the political or social commentary aspects of Gregory Burke's play are overshadowed in turns by humour and violence. But when the laughs are so genuine and the brutality isn't out of character you really just have to hold on tight and enjoy the ride. Burke has created characters and circumstances which, while not believable in any real sense of the word, are certainly recogniseable - and director Michael Emans has put together an excellent cast to portray them. Jimmy Chisholm convinces as the activist who finds himself in over his head; Finn Den Hertog gives accidental witness Tom a nice balance of naive optimism and insecurity; while Dave Anderson manages to make us care what happens to Frank - despite spending much of his stage time unconscious. But it's Jordan Young's performance as Eddie, the driving force behind events, that makes the biggest impact with his character's fast paced dialogue and raw energy. It's a commanding performance and one that leaves you nervous of encountering him on the street outside after the show.

Emans never allows the pace to flag - even in the moments when little is happening - and from the very first bars of the Kaiser Chiefs track used to open the show the audience knows it's in for a great evening. Rapture Theatre have been one of our favourite theatre companies since we first saw their shows back in 2005 - and Gagarin Way just serves to remind us why we enjoy their work so much.

Gagarin Way still has several Scottish dates to play on its tour including the Tron in Glasgow and ends with performances at Greenwich Theatre in London.
Image by Eamonn McGoldrick used with permission