Gagarin Way
by Gregory Burke

Two nights ago I watched fabulous Gagarin Way by Gregory Burke, directed by Maja Milatović-Ovadia in BITEF Theatre.

An edgy, cynical socio-political microcosm set in post-Thatcher Scotland, Gagarin Way takes an incisive, fiercely intelligent look at the remnants of 20th-century ideology and charts its dispersal in our era of emptiness. Economic, political and personal violence collide ferociously in this caustic comedy, shining an unforgiving light on our infuriating inability to acknowledge, identify or resist the forces that dehumanize us.

This black comedy provokes laughter and has its own social misfits but never lets its audience forget that to murder someone, whatever the motive, is to end a warm, throbbing life. The plot is settled in a small Scottish mining town taken over by multinational corporations. Two local men, thirsty for social justice and full of revolutionary, anti globalistic spirit, kidnap an executive and plan to kill him as a political statement. With strong mask of tough revolutionars, guerilla fighters, with great ideas and their weak base, with selective „knowledge“ about revolutionary movements (with stories from the war which he heard from his granddad, the same granddad he never met); with gun in hand and total confusion in head … those two young man are ready to make history! Thinking that killing that evil Japanese exploiter, who is not quite Japanese but maybe Dutch or even better American … who in the end turns out to be a native son as bitter over his selling out to the invaders as his abductors are over their dead-end lives. The ideas, beliefs and hopes of these men grate, clash, combine and oppose as their own stories emerge through the play.

This is a ton of theatrical dynamite cunningly disguised as a mere Molotov cocktail. It slips down easily and then explodes. It ransacks 20th-century political philosophies and ideologies with assurance and poses big questions: can the individual act have greater political symbolism? Is political violence ever justified? What is the difference between revolution and murder and how can you rise above apathy in a world where there is nothing left to believe in? For all its shocking violence, this is an acutely moral play.

Maybe we have a new genre: Comedy of terrorism. This is Waiting Godot to Come – with a rifle.

8/10