Fringe review: Square Go
WRITTEN by two of Scotland’s most acclaimed writers, Gary McNair and Kieran Hurley, Square Go embodies the best of their work; accessible, highly entertaining and with a resonance far wider than its immediate setting.
For McNair, that often means the challenges of growing up in the unemployment-scarred terrain of Scotland’s ex-mining towns, places where expectations are often low and there’s a tang of aggression on the deserted streets. Places where being a socially acceptable boy often means adhering to a set of rules – or suffering relentless taunts and humiliations. Places like other countless places.
So while much of the audience here, given their accents, may not be familiar with words such as “haunners” – as in help, or back-up – or just how casually vulgar and genitally-obsessed Scottish schoolboys’ insults are, it could not matter less. Directed by fellow Fringe First winner Finn Den Hertog, Gavin Wright and Scott Fletcher’s (River City) performances as Stevie and Max, 13 year-old boys preparing for a fight, rightly earns them a standing ovation.
Staged perfectly in Summerhall’s Roundabout Theatre, the tone here is one of a wrestling match, a particular form of theatre where high camp meets seriousness and where the audience are drawn into the brew of aggression, fantasy and showmanship. It’s a dynamic not unlike the one involved in the scramble to see the fight at the school gates.
As Max’s haunners in his square go with the school hardcase, Wright’s Stevie is a riot, bringing the same gangly ineptitude and unconscious hilarity as he did to Spud in Gareth Nicholls’s recent revival of Trainspotting.
Max has other ideas, however, preferring to take his cues from Macho Man Randy Savage, a wrestler whose moves and patter he studies from the VHS tapes his dad gave him before he disappeared.
Set to music from Frightened Rabbit, Square Go is fun and raucous certainly, but it’s also a study in how fear and emptiness informs the “hardness” that many boys are taught to value and live by.
Until Aug 26 (not 7, 14, 21), Summerhall, 8.20pm (1hr), £15, £10 concs. Tel: 0131 560 1581. Tickets: bit.ly/SquareGo18 www.painesplough.com #squarego