3 stars ***
Summerhall (Venue 26)
IT’S A fiercely ambitious show, this first Summerhall outing by Electric Theatre Workshop of Dumfries. In a fast, furious hour, writer/director Graham Main’s play sets out to tell the story of a teenage boy, mourning the death of his mother, who falls under the influence of the leader of the local right-wing SDL group, takes part in the savage bullying of a local Asian shopkeeper’s daughter, and – once he realises what he has done – becomes involved in a nightmare journey through the streets, in a doomed attempt to put things right.
There are echoes of Berkoff and of Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet, as the prowling SDL leader tries to drive a wedge between bofriend and girlfriend, and Main’s text flares into ambitious rhythms of verse and rhyme – there’s no routine in-your-face naturalism here. In the end, the pitch and pace is just too intense, the story a shade confusing, and the tone oddly pitched between contemporary political street drama, satanic fantasy, and dangerously stylish gangster movie. It’s inspiring, though, to see Main’s young cast throw themselves at this difficult subject with such colossal energy, both physical and emotional; and with a little more light and shade in their theatrical style, Electric Theatre Workshop could emerge as an important new voice in Scottish theatre, and an impressive creative force.