Offshore (3 stars)

Seen at Citzens’ Theatre, Glasgow. On tour throughout Scotland until Sat 1 Nov

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Offshore

NEW PLAY

It’s easy to imagine that the countryside exists without money. With all that fresh air, isn’t cash just a distraction? Of course, just as the wilderness is actually the result of centuries of industrial exploitation, so the rural population needs to earn a living as much as anyone.

It’s the fragile nature of this economy that provides the dynamic for Alan Wilkins’ Offshore. Set in a west coast beauty spot, it’s about a community with only three months of the year to make a living, getting by for the most part on minimum-wage jobs with no prospects. To the incomers Frida and Jock, these locals, running a ferry and a beer franchise, seem to value friendship above commercial gain, apparently squandering what little opportunity they have for profit.

The scene is set for a culture-clash drama in which the consumerist city-types rub up against the less acquisitive country folk. Except, in this Birds of Paradise production directed by Morven Gregor, Wilkins plays against expectations by spinning out an old-school thriller in which nobody is exactly who they say they are.

It becomes as gripping and as incredible as an Agatha Christie and, at 70 minutes, breezily watchable for that. But the more the playwright springs his surprises, the further away he moves from his initial vision of a community with a complex relationship to money and the closer he comes to the nihilistic idea that even the good guys have their price. The result is a play that rings less true as it goes on.

Please see offshore.birdsofparadisetheatre.co.uk for tour details

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