Comics successfully revive Fringe hit
This article is from 2009.
At first glance, the decision to revive Gregory Burke’s heavy-hitting play about labour unrest and kidnapping might appear to be an act of folly on the part of the Comedians Theatre Company. Burke’s debut was first staged to great acclaim at the Traverse in 2001, so the cohorts of CTC, the company formed by stand-up Phil Nichol to put comedians to work in the theatre, have got their work cut out for them. However, Nichol and his fellow cast members, Bruce Morton, Will Andrews and Jim Muir, rise to the challenge, delivering a show that’s as good as anything the company has produced since its impressive 2006 Fringe debut, Talk Radio.
Set in a factory somewhere in Fife, the play revolves around the kidnapping of management consultant Frank (Morton) by two disgruntled workers. Wannabe communist ideologist Gary (Muir) wants the boss to justify his position, while thuggish Eddie (Nichol) simply wants to indulge his penchant for GBH. Meanwhile, Tom (Andrews), a security guard and university graduate, tries to defuse the volatile situation. Talky and violent (in a way that recalls the testosterone-fuelled banter in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs), Burke’s characters spit verbal bullets at one another, bemoaning their miserable lot in life and bickering about who’s to blame and whether there’s anything to be done about it. It’s this quick-fire dialogue that the cast really latch onto, ratchetting up the intensity of the verbal sparring in a way that stand-ups do when they’re on a roll with hecklers. If on occasion they trip over one another, it makes little difference to taut proceedings, which, in this claustrophobic new production benefit greatly from being performed in the round.
Finally, Burke’s play has become very timely since the recession hit and ‘bossnapping’ has emerged as a new crime. Interestingly, though, despite the looming shadow of fat-cats such as Fred Goodwin, the play’s sympathies are not necessarily where you’d expect to find them.
The Stand, 558 7272, until 30 Aug (not 17), 1pm, £7–£9 (£6–£8).