Motortown

This is a show that spits in the face of gritty realism and then desecrates its grave.Returning from a tour of Basra, Danny discovers that things are not how he left them. England has changed and his former flame, Marley, has moved on. Danny moves in with his socially inept brother Lee and tries to start a new life. That he was destined to fail in that endeavour does not come as a surprise. After all, ‘squaddie pays himself out of army, settles down and lives happily ever after’ does not thrilling theatre make. When our protagonist purchases a replica gun and has it reactivated, any fleeting hopes of redemption are dashed in a harrowing scene involving a hysterical 14-year-old girl and a can of petrol.You’ll struggle to find a more despondent show at the Fringe. You’ll also struggle to find a more convincing one. The whole cast are exceptional, from the awkward, shuffling Lee to the terrified ex. It is James Dartford who steals the show however, delivering an unhinged performance that is as brilliant as it is disturbing. He never breaks from character, to the extent that when the lights go up to applause, Danny sits slumped at the table staring vacantly into space. He remains there, shell-shocked, until the last soul has trickled out. There are no heroes in war, but James Dartford comes pretty damn close. Motortown is bleak, feel-bad material that will leave a hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach. A few chinks of light amidst all the darkness wouldn’t have gone amiss, and the vague ending felt slightly rushed. Nevertheless, this unsettling production resonates powerfully, with Danny’s descent into madness utterly compelling. War might not be good for a lot of things, but it did inspire Motortown.

The Blurb

Danny returns from Basra to a foreign England and a different battle. He visits an old flame, buys a gun and goes on a blistering road trip through the new home front. ‘Slick, professional production’ ***** (ThreeWeeks 2010).