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Battery Farm

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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The Traverse is to be congratulated for giving Edinburgh audiences a chance to view the series of short plays presented in the innovative Oran Mor, A Play, A Pie and A Pint series. The atmosphere isn't quite the same at The Traverse – the pies have to be dispatched before you enter the auditorium, which may be just as well given the subject matter of Gregory Burke's play.

Burke is, of course, the hugely talented author of the biggest success in recent Scottish theatre, Black Watch. His new play tackles big themes too, in an entertaining enough fashion, but without much depth. The play is set in a high-tech storage facility, where the elderly are kept like battery hens and if they are not visited by their relatives within a designated time, which is a rare occurrence, they are shall we say recycled into the food chain. Perhaps the offspring are just getting there own back on their relatives for their contribution to the continued decline of mankind? Then as now, the wealth you have determines the level of comfort you are 'stored' in though ultimately their fate is the same.

The play takes on the care of the elderly, the treatment of animals, the ecological mess we are bequeathing future generations and a few more issues besides, which may be its undoing given the short length of time (45 minutes) it takes to cover them. It feels like an extended comedy sketch rather than a play but is is well performed by Denise Hoey as a idealistic eco-warrior, Ian Bissett as the jobs-worth functionary and Andy Gray as the elderly, wealthy oilman, who has a lot to answer for.

The dialogue is smartly amusing, the direction by David MacLennan is brisk but in the end, unlike the excellent pie, the play, while amusing and relevant, is ultimately unsatisfying.

- Keith Paterson


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