Patriots is a refreshing piece of up-to –the minute writing which takes well-known stories from recent headlines and gives them a sense of humanity in a series of short ‘techno-fables’.
The play opens with a carefully edited montage of different clips from news programmes over the last year or so, broadcast on four retro television sets positioned on stage. The TVs give a wonderfully retro edge to the modern writing and give a sense of the timelessness of the stories unfolding onstage.
It is clear that the play is broken down into distinct sections, but at times this made the overall effect feel a little disjointed. There were clearly connections to be made between the different storylines, otherwise the title ‘Patriots’ would not have been applicable to all of them, and yet these connections were largely ignored. It worked very well to have a story about real human connection as a linking piece in between scenes of heartlessness and professional desperation, but more could have been done to draw parallels between each scene.
But that is my only criticism. The individual performances were incredibly strong from all four cast members, but Oliver Lennard particularly stood out in terms of delivering levels of raw emotion in an otherwise cold theatrical context.
The stand-out scene has to be an interaction between a member of the SNP and an automated phone line. This was definitely my ‘scene of the fringe’ this year, and I struggle to think of a wittier scenario that I have seen before in any medium of political satire. The phone engages the character of Ian, played by Stephen Quinn, in a game of Deal Or No Deal, where the boxes contain pros and cons of Scottish independence and the banker offers independence deals based on the arguments raised in each round. It is a beautifully staged, wonderfully acted and completely refreshing up-to-the-moment piece of theatre which is incredibly relevant to many an audience at this year’s fringe.
So all-in-all, this is an excellent play which is brought to life in style by a fantastic cast. You should definitely go and see this play before the end of their run, they deserve to have a full house every night. 5 stars.
Patriots is on a Paradise in the Vault at 20:35. Their last performance is on 22nd August so make sure to catch them before then.