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Jump, Platform, Easterhouse

The buzzword that adds drama to this National Theatre of Scotland project is parkour – that running, jumping, freestyle way of skimming over obstacles that originated in army training exercises.

It's clearly a cool way of covering distances: even those of us with feet firmly on the ground can understand why anyone would want to soar free like a bird or a superhero.

As the hundreds of teenage boys who took part in the workshops discovered, however, parkour is as much a mental discipline as a physical feat. Moreover, there are all kinds of leaps that can only happen inside your head, usually when you're standing still. And yes, we're talking about growing up. The pitfalls, challenges and disappointments that have to be taken in one's stride, and the internalised bruises acquired on the way from boyhood to manhood.

On-stage, a dozen or so lads vividly represent the journey made by those who embraced the parkour mantra of "find your way". Stories are confided, exposing loneliness and uncertainty. Male role models are saluted, authority figures reproached for not listening, not caring but simply jumping to conclusions, always censorious ones.

Some fragments hint at brutal childhood experiences. There are even brisk statistics about the realities and expectations of teenage boys in Glasgow (and Fife, a partner in the project). And when the music pumps up the volume, there is slow-burn hip-hop grooving, break-outs of upbeat ensemble movement and dashes of parkour across various scaffolding levels.

The energy is immense, the skills impressive as, with a final roar of readiness, the cast rush to the edge of the stage and the cusp of adulthood.

HHH

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