Seen at Tron Theatre, Glasgow. On tour until Sat 18 Oct
No doubt it’s Fleeto’s origins as a piece of lunchtime theatre in A Play, a Pie and a Pint that mean this revival by Glasgow’s V.amp is stripped back and elemental. The set amounts to nothing more than a table and a couple of chairs – and even they don’t get used much.
But it’s not just economy that dictates Paddy Cunneen’s production of his 70-minute play. It’s also his desire to tell a modern-day story of inner-city knife crime in the manner of Greek tragedy. Avoiding drab naturalism, he leans on his story’s mythic elements of revenge and reconciliation to justify his heightened urban poetry and straight-from-the-heart monologues. This could easily be a pretentious indulgence, but the combination of Cunneen’s tough streetwise language, four equally no-nonsense performances and the way the story of an everyday knife murder reaches out into society at large gives the production a compelling energy.
As Mackie, Jordan McCurrach gives a superb performance that shows how a likeable kid from a deprived background can be drawn into criminality almost by accident. His horror at committing a half-intended murder – goaded on by Neil Leiper’s frightening Kenzie – is genuine and his attempt to make peace with Alison Peebles as the bereaved mother is touching without being sentimental.
It is the play’s willingness to go beyond a simple knives-are-bad message and to argue that knife crime has causes and consequences in society as a whole that makes it as gripping for a teenage audience as it is for adults.