Passing Places

Passing Places

Pitlochry Festival Theatre

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Neil Cooper

THE giant map of Scotland tilted centre-stage above the audience at the start of Richard Baron's timely revival of Stephen Greenhorn's "road movie for the stage" not only shows off some of the country's lesser-travelled pastures as the play travels from Motherwell to Thurso, it also puts a roof on an entire world, with designer Adrian Rees' wooden construction below doubling up as sports shop, travellers' camp, ceilidh hall and ferry.

In and out of this weave Alex and Brian, a pair of small-town boys who go on the run and on the road with a surfboard beloved by Alex's psychopathic boss, Binks. With Alex as overheated as the Lada that belongs to Brian's brother, and Brian trying to get beyond the guide-book clichés, the pair hook up with assorted free-spirits who take them out of their comfort zone en route to somewhere else, all the while with Binks in hot pursuit. The end result is one of the most significant pieces of post-modern populism and end-of-the-century enlightenment to have roared out of our own back yard.

Baron navigates his cast lovingly throughout, with Derek McGhie as Alex and Keith McLeish as Brian capturing their characters full Yin and Yang mix of frustration, fear and born-again yearning.

Romana Abercromby's Mirren is the female foil to their Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty, bridging both in a play as steeped in pop culture as it is full of big, philosophical meditations on identity and a quest for something real.

Only Alan Steele's Binks clings to the imaginary, in a poignant and irresistibly funny look at what can happen when you run away from home.