Square Go by Kieran Hurley and Gary McNair – Summerhall, Edinburgh
Writers Kieran Hurley and Gary McNair have strong Edinburgh records, and they join together at Summerhall for a play which generates serious late night energy. The round auditorium becomes a wrestling ring, as Max (Scott Fletcher) and Stevie (Gavin Jon Wright) prepare for a school fight. Playing teenagers with a love of 1980s wrestling stars, the two wear singlets but the opponent Max is preparing to face (in a ‘square go’) is school bully Danny, who he has accidentally upset.
The writing is very tight, effortlessly recreating the ’80s Scottish school experience, rich in dialect. We are immersed in a world where nothing is more terrifying or more important than facing up to Danny in the right way. The performers relish the area-like space, bringing the audience onside and demonstrating how easily the mob mentality can be triggered. The Roundabout’s mini-lighting rig is at full stretch, and the soundtrack pounds. However, the play has no illusions about the damage caused by macho posturing. Its compassionate clear understanding of the family background that leads to a boy becoming a bully leads to an inevitable conclusion, that the ‘square go’ is not the sacred school ritual it seems, but a pointless spectacle that must be overcome.