Gary McNair is having a fantastic fringe. After the Cuts, his play about the dismantlement of the NHS, is darkly witty and deeply tender. And Square Go, his two-handed high-school comedy co-written with Kieran Hurley, might just be the funniest show of the festival.
Two boys – Max (Scott Fletcher) and Stevie (Gavin Jon Wright) – are hiding, shit-scared, in the school toilets, waiting for the bell to signal the end of the day. Because Max then has an imminent fight with the burly school bully, Danny Guthrie. And he’s going to get beaten to a pulp.
Their nervous back-and-forth, which often involves the audience, is downright hilarious. But slowly, this one-upmanship gives way to something much deeper. As absent fathers, alcoholic fathers, suicide and homophobia rear their heads, McNair and Hurley cleverly expose the firm grip toxic masculinity has on men, on boys, and particularly on impressionable teenagers.
Finn Den Hertog’s production is – there’s no other way of putting it – brilliant, brilliant fun, thanks to two joyously funny, joyously Scottish performances from Fletcher and Wright, who command the audience superbly throughout with cheers, chants and an arm-wrestling challenge at one point. Huge kudos to them. Huge kudos to McNair and Hurley.