Kill Johnny Glendenning

Kill Johnny Glendenning

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

Neil Cooper

Wannabe gangsters take note. It's unlikely that anyone will ever be able to take you seriously again after DC Jackson's scurrilous comedy set in the mankiest of Ayrshire pig-farms.

Here, would-be goodfellas Dominic and Skootch are holed up with tabloid hack Bruce as the mother of all shoot-outs accidentally ensues.

When smooth-talking MacPherson turns up, his patter is just a curtain-raiser to what happens when emigre Ulster Loyalist Johnny Glendenning finally shows face.

If this sounds like standard, sub-Hollywood, tough guy fare, Jackson's play is delivered with such potty-mouthed filter-free glee as it piles up the bodycount that it becomes both shocking and hilarious.

While it is a study too of West Coast of Scotland machismo and the perceived glamour of being part of a gang, Jackson's dialogue is peppered throughout with the geekiest of pop cultural detritus. Computer games, mobile phone apps, the restorative powers of Aswad, British reggae and Transcendental Meditation and at least two references to Dad's Army are all in the mix.

Director Mark Thomson kickstarts the Royal Lyceum's new season with a bang in this co-producton with the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow that takes no prisoners with a piece of work that makes Martin McDonagh's output look well-behaved.

With electrifying turns from David Ireland as Johnny, Paul Samson as MacPherson and a scene-stealing cameo from Kern Falconer as Auld Jim, a farmer straight out of Viz comic, the first act's display of baroque grotesquerie could stand alone as a one-act piece.

Just when you're wondering who's still alive to take the action any further, however, things take a structural lurch backwards a la Reservoir Dogs in a second act that takes place in Bruce's flat.

Here we see the back-story to events in the first act, plus a happy ending of sorts as Dominic's heavily pregnant moll Kimberly takes centre-stage.

Joanne Thomson comes into her own here as Kimberly, sparring manically with Steven McNicoll's hangdog Bruce while Philip Cairns' Dominic and Josh Whitelaw's Skootch look on in a fast and furious piece of comic myth-making to die for.