Set in Glasgow, this hard-hitting play speaks out about community violence and gang mentality based on director Paddy Cunneen’s own experiences whilst working in Edinburgh. When a young boy called Andy is brutally attacked by gang leader Kenzie the audience see how things spiral out of control when feelings of revenge and justice take hold.
The play highlights the absurdity that poverty and deprivation exists on the outskirts of big Scottish cities where, just a couple of miles in the city centres, there is wealth and stability. Cunneen’s aim is to give an audience insight into the atrocities caused by gangs from the ‘schemes’ (low cost housing) and make them reflect on their own role regarding the prevention and understanding of these situations. Within this environment where territorialism and violence are the norm, you as the audience find your own morals and values become confused as you too get caught up with vengeful emotions. Indeed what makes this play so intense is the skill of the writing, with lines being almost lyrical. Influenced by the writer’s love of Greek theatre, the dialogue is powerful and poetic, with the thick Scottish accent adding depth and meaning, almost like Scottish Shakespeare. Even though you don’t enjoy the violence presented to you, you as the audience are forced to be involved with the physical acts as well as the emotions as a lot of the violence is staged in a non-naturalistic style, where the audience is made to imagine a lot of the details. With the majority of the monologues staged with the actor facing out towards the audience you are instantly drawn into the action and invited into the social debate of gang life.
Wee Andy is played by Amyn Ali who although has minimal lines, despite the eponymous title, captures the vulnerability of a young boy who is caught up with the violence against his will. Pauline Knowles plays Andy’s mother and she is truly mesmerising. You are instantly drawn into her despair as a mother and find yourself completely agreeing with her mentality as Knowles produces a credible and controlled performance. Steven McNicoll is also brilliant with a skilled, considered delivery of lines and an intense portrayal of a surgeon who is charged with the job of treating the brutalities caused by gangs. Both of these actors are experienced and as a result professional therefore credit has to go to the three younger performers, Amyn Ali, Neil Leiper (who plays the leader of a gang, Kenzie) and Jordan McCurrach (who is Andy’s friend). All three actors produce mature and controlled performances and are definitely ones to watch out for in the future. With strong language and explicit violence this play is shocking, powerful and real.