Theatre Uncut (1)


Theatre Uncut
4 stars ****
Traverse Theatre (Venue 15)

IT SEEMS a long time, now, since the autumn of 2011, when there were “occupy” movements everywhere, and it briefly seemed as though there might be some kind of uprising against the “austerity” agenda of governments across the west. One initiative from those months that is still going from strength to strength, though, is Theatre Uncut, the radical theatre initiative – devised by young directors Hannah Price and Emma Callander – that commissions short 15 minutes plays on topical themes from leading playwrights, and then makes tem available rights-free, for performance by anyone, anywhere, for a period of at least a month. Two fine Theatre Uncut plays by David Greig, from past seasons, are playing at Paterson’s Land this festival; and every Monday morning, for the three weeks of the Fringe, you can see rehearsed readings of four more new plays in the Traverse bar, often featuring star actors, and all grouped round this year’s chosen question, which is about the rise of the far right in western politics.

So in last Monday’s superb programme, we saw Phil Nichols, Tom Tuck and Gary Beadle in a new Neil La Bute play about possible ethnic cleansing in America, and the Wardrobe Ensemble devising a piece about an affluent dinner-party in tough times, based on a scenario by the TEAM company of New York. The shows that seemed most fiercely in tune with current debate, though, were Davey Anderson’s True Or False, a new scottish-made play about a helpless girl recruited to act as a police informer duting a riot, which featured a fantastic riff on boss-class attitudes delivered with superb ironic energy by Brian Ferguson; and, from Clare Brennan, a truly magnificent, funny and moving dialogue for father and daughter, superbly played by Gemma Whelan and Howard Coggins, about love and family loyalty in a time of degradation and recession, and about how a bewildered ageing man can be bamboozled into joining the English Defence League, despite – somewhere – having the proverbial heart of gold.

Joyce McMillan
Until 19 August 
p. 328



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