Gagarin Way by Gregory Burke, directed by Jim Millan, with Aidan Devine, Shawn Doyle, Hardee T. Lineham and Matthew MacFadzean. Presented by Crow's Theatre at Buddies in Bad Times (12 Alexander). Runs to April 27, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 3 pm. $25-$31, Sunday pwyc. 416-975-8555. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Thanks to Tarantino and the Sopranos, it's become a cliché to have hoodlums spewing philosophy. But here we are in the first few minutes of Gregory Burke's Gagarin Way, watching Eddie (Shawn Doyle) talk about Sartre to a young security guard (Matthew MacFadzean). Lucky for us, Burke has a few more tricks up his sleeve. Eddie's cynical take on Sartre ends up resonating throughout the 90-minute work along with other themes like globalization and the problems of the radical left.
Turns out he's a disillusioned Scots factory worker who's arranged with former union rep Gary (Aidan Devine) to kidnap a Japanese executive -- the perfect symbol of a multinational corporation. Their goal is to make "political violence fashionable again."
But when the young student security guard gets involved accidentally and the exec (Hardee T. Lineham) turns out not to be Japanese but British, the kidnappers have to rethink their situation.
Lots of anger simmers beneath the surface of the play, and while there are plenty of detours -- Prague tourism and a savage story about war veterans fondly re-enancting the Blitz -- the end gets to you. This despite Jim Millan's uneven production, which bogs down in the middle and doesn't mix up rhythms as it should.
MacFadzean, his voice pitched high, creates a good comic foil, but Doyle's bleary-eyed, desperate Eddie is the heart of the piece: a man so confused and angry he's capable of anything. It's a hair-raising performance.