When the Duns players were looking to stage something a bit different, Gagarin Way seemed to fit the bill.
Gagarin Way, a street in the small Fife ex-mining town of Lumphinnans, was so named ostensibly in honour of the soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, but also to reflect Fife’s history of radical socialism. In the 1930s, Fife actually returned a communist MP, and many Fifers went to fight Fascism in the Spanish Civil War. For much of the 20th Century, miners kept the socialist cause alive in Fife, but these days, the Berlin wall and the mines are long gone.
Gagarin Way is Scottish playwright Gregory Burke’s first play which premiered to critical acclaim in 2001. Set in a West Fife computer chip factory, it tells the story of self-educated and disillusioned factory workers and sons of miners, Gary and Eddie, alienated in an environment in which the tough camaraderie of the mines has been replaced with a bleaker capitalist landscape which provides neither social justice nor opportunity. Having decided to indulge themselves in a little direct action in the form of kidnapping a visiting boss, Frank, they are thwarted by security guard Tom, a political science graduate with opinions of his own.
Director Peter Lerpiniere said of the Players’ decision to stage Gagarin’s Way:
‘We were looking for something strong and different from what we usually do, and were also keen to produce something by a contemporary Scottish writer. It is very funny, but funny without being “cheery”; it asks something different of the audience. There are also some key political themes in this play which resonate as much today as they did 15 years ago, if not more – frankly capitalism has won, or at least it thinks it has. In this play, we have someone who is fighting against capitalism, but even before he’s finished his first act, he knows he has lost. The nature of capitalism - the greed - is a dominant feature.
Directing the play has been a challenge. Trying to convey brutal violence is not something the actors have often faced in the past, and at times they have had to be encourages to take the passion out of the performance in order to convey the its casual nature.’
Gagarin’s Way is at the Volunteer Hall, Duns, Wednesday – Friday, June 1-3, at 7.30pm.