Traverse, Edinburgh, Tue 28 Oct–Sat 1 Nov. Previews Fri 24 Oct & Sat 25 Oct


With Darwin’s bicentenary coming up in 2009, one can’t help but suspect that an awful lot of TV documentaries with hidden ideological aims have just been put on hold. A great torrent of material about how capitalism most closely mimicked Darwin’s defined model for the health and perpetuation of our species, and a lot of twitter about such scientifically discredited books as The Selfish Gene have been forestalled – so be grateful for this aspect of the economic catastrophe.

In the current situation it seems perfect timing to uncover a new writer with a degree in Biological Sciences to give us the real story.

In Cockroach, a new play by Developmental Biology graduate Sam Holcroft, we meet a teacher preparing biology lessons for her students as a huge global war, which has already claimed many victims, looms over their future. The play examines gender politics in a way that we haven’t seen for a while in British theatre, exploring male aggression and female tendencies to nurture, and drawing political, yet scientific conclusions. ‘Opening the national newspapers every day and seeing that another six stropping lads have been blown to pieces is a waste,’ Holcroft observes, her next sentence alerting us to her biology boffin credentials. ‘Seeing all these men disappear has huge implications for young women, who are losing these potential partners as these fit and healthy men are shot to pieces. So the genes of those physically unable to fight are the ones that will repopulate the next generation. That has implications for the next generation in terms of what genes are left in the pool.’


  • 3 stars

New play as part of the National Theatre of Scotland Traverse Debuts season, written by new writer Sam Holcroft and directed by Vicky Featherstone. A biology teacher struggles to teach her pupils that education will make them free against all the odds.

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