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Gagarin Way review at Dundee Rep – ‘a resonant, revelatory revival’

Michael Moreland, Ross Baxter and Ewan Donald in Gagarin Way at Dundee Rep. Photo: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan.
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It’s nearly two decades since Gregory Burke’s darkly comic Gagarin Way first burst onto a stage, but Cora Bissett’s new production for the Dundee Rep makes it feel fresher than ever.

It is as brutal an expression of the destructive forces of international capitalism as it ever was – all that is missing is the term “neoliberalism” as left-wing idealist Gary (Michael Moreland) and uptight Eddie (Ewan Donald) kidnap company rep Frank (Barrie Hunter) in a human heist gone wrong.

Bissett’s direction draws out the musicality of the Fife vernacular. The pacing is superb and she has tightened the flow of the play by excising a handful slightly dated exchanges. Eddie’s wit might be obvious, but Donald gives him a dead-behind-the-eyes sense of danger too.

There is a levity and lightness to the comedy of the opening banter between Eddie and Ross Baxter’s young student turned security guard, Tom. When the heist goes wrong the comedy continues to leaven the brutality, but also adds tension as the approaching mayhem becomes clear.

Emily James’s realistic set gives Bissett space for a couple excellent visual gags, while grounding the production in the mundanity of working life in the supply room of a Dunfermline factory. Niroshini Thambar’s sound design both enhances the realism and underscores the tension.

The real revelation of Bissett’s production, however, is her depiction of Eddie’s violence as both a reflection of where we are now and a warning of where we could so easily be heading.

Cora Bissett: ‘Our society is changing: we need to represent and engage with that’


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Cora Bissett's sharp, resonant revival of Gregory Burke’s comedy about a failed heist