Scotland Yard Playground, George V Park, Canonmills, Edinburgh
August, 2000

The Grid Iron company specialises in site-specific work; in past years they have staged The Bloody Chamber in the labyrinth beneath Edinburgh's City Chambers, and Gargantua in the bowels of the main library. This year they swap subterranea for the open air at dusk, and adaptations for an original work. Douglas Maxwell's play is about a group of lads who frequent the playground swings on an estate, and broncoing is riding those swings in a particular daredevil way.

Keith Macpherson's David narrates an episode from his childhood, and we see both scenes in flashback and the adult figures who several of the characters later become, forced into maturity by the tragedy which befalls Decky (David Craig). There is no deliberately kiddy-style acting on show here; the cast, under Ben Harrison's direction, just plunge themselves into events without trying to be exaggeratedly youthful. They work the swings well, too, to the accompaniment of Finitribe founder Philip Pinsky's electronic score.

My heart sank in the final minutes, when it became apparent that Maxwell was resorting to a figure of modish contemporary social demonology to provide the climax to the narrative (forgive my vagueness; to spell things out would be to give the game away), and that he was unwilling to pursue the ideas in David's closing speech as far as he could have done. For the hour or so preceding, though, it is a charming and affecting creation.

Written for the Financial Times Web site,

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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