Propeller review at Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh – ‘heartfelt show about local activism’

Cast of Propeller at Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh Cast of Propeller at Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh

Get “Lockie” back on track! Welcome to the fictional Lockhaven Port, based on a typical corner of small-town Scotland largely forgotten by the powers that be in Edinburgh and Westminster. The teenage characters who live here have one dream: to leave.

But literally leaving – either for university, a weekend trip or a daily commute – is easier said than done. Like many back-and-beyond places, Lockie (as its nicknamed) used to have a local train service to Edinburgh. Now, it just has a “shitty bus”.

In the Network Ensemble’s Propeller, a group of local young people decide to launch a campaign to get the train service returned to their town. Or rather, in keeping with the bureaucratic rules of government, their first step is to get a ‘feasibility report’ conducted.

Caitlin Skinner’s production splices the train-saving story with snapshots of historic, people-powered protests, including the miners’ strike and the anti-Iraq War protests.

There are also passages of interpretive group dance, poetry and music (George Michael’s Faith turned into a transport protest song is a highlight). But despite the enthusiasm of the cast and some dry humour, the piece as a whole lacks cohesion and always seems in danger of becoming derailed.

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Young ensemble perform a messy but heartfelt show about grassroots activism