There is an intrinsic roughness to this latest production from Edinburgh-based Blazing Hyena productions: performed "in the round" in a student bar within city's Art College, the set is minimal while the only exit off stage is through the door from the building's vestibule. The audience are seated on a mixture of leather sofas, armchairs and plastic chairs, with some of the cast amongst them. Yet this soon doesn't matter; thanks to Jack Elliot's somewhat brutal script, and generally excellent performances from its cast.
One, Two, Three, Yippee is the tale of the Gordon family; specifically three siblings – eldest brother Jonny (played by writer Elliot), and twins Andy and Anna. Introduced to us by a chorus of three "gossips" – allegedly waiting for a bus out of town that never comes
One, Two, Three, Yippee is the tale of the Gordon family; specifically three siblings – eldest brother Jonny (played by writer Elliot), and twins Andy and Anna. Introduced to us by a chorus of three "gossips" – allegedly waiting for a bus out of town that never comes – the Gordon kids are barely surviving in the impoverished small Midlothian town of Woodburn. Jonny earns a little cash selling cigarettes and drugs at the local high school – to staff if not the kids. Andy and Anna, meantime, aren't above nicking old women's bags in the hope of finding enough pennies to get drunk and pay the bills. Their mother is dead, their father out of the picture, though Jonny's hatred of the latter proves to be more prescient than it first appears.
Cocky Jonny might appear a selfish wind-up-merchant who finds himself out of his depth with the local crime family – led by Kirsty Findlay's seductive "lady in red" Tracey – but Elliot (an excellent "Sailor" in Liam Rudden's Thief during this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe) ensures that our opinion of Jonny's hostility shifts once we're introduced to James Gordon. Chillingly performed by James Boal, Gordon Snr is a Belfast hard man who soon sets himself up as the new crime king in town, brutally following up any threat he makes – even to his own children.
Cassie Gaughan as Anna and Ross Donnachie as Andy both cope well with their characters arcs, although Donnachie arguably has the clearer journey to work on, from youthful innocent to the "dead behind the eyes" son so desperate to be like his father that he even starts dressing like him. Gaughan, meantime, has to work harder with less detailed and subtle material, but that could be said of the female cast in general. As a writer, Elliot does seem to be more interested in the men.
Catherine Exposito’s direction is sharp and to the point, all the more necessary given how close the audience is to the action. She's cast well, and ensures a real sense of momentum throughout its running time. That the downbeat conclusion lacks a certain impact is thanks principally to having the whole story effectively told in flashback, but there are certainly moments throughout where cast, direction and script are touching on five-stars brilliance.
A flawed, but promising work from a theatre company bursting with talent, energy and a genuine voice that's determined to be heard.