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Theatre Review: Passing Places ***

Joy Watters reviews the latest production of Stephen Greenhorn's play.

Stephen Greenhorn’s road movie for the stage has been staged the length of the country and now celebrates its 21st year with an east-west tour by Dundee Rep ensemble directed by Andrew Panton.

Greenhorn’s ear for the vernacular is finely honed as he charts the journey of Alex and Brian, two lads departing their hometown of Motherwell, pursued by psycho gangster Binks. They take to the road in a clapped out Lada, with a surfboard stolen from Binks, on a voyage of discovery about themselves, Scotland and life itself.

Designer Becky Minto has created a set centre stage which simultaneously encompasses two themes of the piece. On one view, it is a single-track road steeply curving upwards suggesting the hills they have to climb; on another, a giant barrel wave, for they end up at Thurso—surf capital of the north.

Ewan Donald is Alex, apparently the tougher of the two lads, conditioned by the poverty of his daily life. Donald convincingly shows how the experiences along the journey allow Alex to see himself and others in a new light.

His travelling companion Brian (Martin Quinn) is more timid, and Quinn has the facial expression of someone who expects little from life. The pair learn from each other and free spirit Mirren (Eleanor House), who introduces them to a host of characters en route north.

Barrie Hunter, all bald and black-leathered, plays psycho Binks with relish, revealing the secret of the stolen surfboard which the lads are trying to flog.

Occasionally the episodic structure takes its toll on the pace but it is still a piece that has something to say.

At Dundee Rep until May 5 and Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, May 8 to 12.

Tags: theatre

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