Narrated with poetic fluidity by Paul Thomas Hickey as Vincent, a disillusioned artist, If Destroyed True is set in New Flood, a Scottish backwater which has just won the dubious accolade of being the worst town in Scotland - and a cash prize to go with it. Vincent's current drunken art consists of writing letters answering Bob Dylan's lyrics and leaving them in public places. Which might worry his friends, but his latest idea is about to blow them all away.
Vincent's concept is to take the prize and spend it in such a way as to ensure that New Flood retains the award. But if his art has humour as its basis, Mr Sweeny (Robert Paterson) who runs the Common Good Committee does not know what irony is. And Sweeny's assimilation of the idea and takeover of the Committee to apply it, borders on the fascistic.
Douglas Maxwell's script betrays a real surety of purpose. The characters are succinct, the ideas complex and while the setting is urban Scotland, his implications are global in nature. But this would not work without a strong directorial hand, and in John Tiffany, it has just that. He wields the characters around the near empty stage as if they were weapons carving out ideas from the darkness.
The seven strong cast rise to the occasion, too. Hickey has the authority needed to set the production running from the word go. Paterson alternates between sneering arrogance as Sweeny and a broken human as Vincent's grandfather. Also doubling up, Ann Louise Ross creates two distinct and contrasting characters in Vincent's empowered grandmother and the disempowered Mrs Young, unceremoniously dumped from Sweeny's Committee.
Cora Bisset is simply stunning as Grace, Vincent's mother, bringing the human side of it all together, while David Ireland and Keith Fleming as Vincent's pals take that humanity and give it a reality in their relationships with him.
It is plays like this which make you believe that the theatre can have a future beyond the retreads of musicals and literary adaptations. A future that is lively, relevant and, above all, entertaining.
- Thom Dibdin (reviewed at Dundee Rep)