altAnyone who has flown anywhere in the last ten years knows how irritating airport security is these days. Mindless drones force you almost to strip naked: belts, shoes and jackets in one tray, phones, cameras and laptops in another, nail polish and liquid eyeliner into a bag and then into another tray, being pushed around and scanned and spoken to as though you are planning to blow up the entire country if you so much as cough at the wrong moment.

This frustrating experience is parodied beautifully in the new production of The Man Who Was Thursday by young company The JAM Theater Collective.

The audience is immediately able to sympathise with our hero, Syme, as he becomes increasingly frustrated in the face of illogical, entrenched bureaucracy. However, we soon discover that this is merely a front to get him into an interrogation room with a mysterious agency, which wants him to infiltrate and bring down a terrorist organisation.

It’s an interesting new interpretation of GK Chesterton’s novel, infusing it with dual issues of modern paranoia: those who aren’t afraid of terrorism are afraid of the all-consuming, monolithic state gradually stealing more and more control over their lives. Chesterton’s message, however, was that all things proceed from a place of goodness. Here, everything is a lot more sinister.

The Man Who Was Thursday is a smart and funny play with some issues. The dialogue isn’t always as sharp as it might be, and it becomes fairly obvious early on what’s going to happen. However, as a silly romp with a big idea behind it, performed by an enthusiastic young company, it works well and deserves to succeed. 

Gilded Balloon Teviot, 4-29 Aug (not 16), 5.45pm

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