Subway (4 stars)

This article is from 2007


Dystopian tale of Leith revolution

Perhaps understandably, the number of people who feel pessimistic rather than optimistic about Britain’s future has grown exponentially over the last few years, according to a flurry of recent surveys. This smart and stylish production from Vanishing Point seems to bear out these attitudes, yet the piece is not without redemptive humour and a certain faith in people’s capacity to overcome political adversity.

In it, we meet a young Leither (Sandy Grierson) who, about 15 years in the future, has a drunken conversation in a pub in Hull which inspires him to return to his native landscape. This, it proves, is dominated by surveillance cameras and policemen seeking to stamp out such offences as smoking in both public and private. The Leith landscape, after the collapse of the NHS, is dominated by a vast private hospital for yuppies, while the locals find themselves marginalised and corralled into ghettoes. One of these, sinking under rising sea levels, contains our hero’s father, a man at the centre of a worker’s revolution, the results of which unfold as the play progresses.

Matthew Lenton’s accomplished production uses its seven piece band to splendid effect in producing a driving and intriguing narrative, the musicians themselves contributing to the humour on the odd occasion amidst a score which might well be the star. But the band has competition. Rosalind Sydney’s supporting role as nearly every character in the piece is a strong turn, while Grierson’s bewildered narrator is outstanding. His movement, as technically precise as it is smartly observed, is a wonder of itself, while his delivery, inflected perfectly with the nuanced idioms of his character’s origins, brings authenticity to a piece whose identifiable localness is part of the appeal. (Steve Cramer)

Traverse 3, University of Edinburgh Drill Hall, 228 1404, until 26 Aug, times vary, £16 (£5–£11). Then touring. See cities and dates below.


  • 4 stars

This new show from Vanishing Point, told to the tune of a seven-piece band, is an epic tale of a man's reconciliation with his father in a world they no longer recognise. This is a smart, stylish production, benefitting from excellent, nuanced performances and a great use of live music.