Stand By – Army@TheFringe Summerhall, Edinburgh

Writer: Adam McNamara

Director: Joe Douglas

Reviewer: Tom Ralphs

Four police officers sit in a riot van as a domestic dispute turns into a hostage situation that a negotiator is failing to resolve. The officers, and audience, have single-earpiece headphones, through which they’re kept informed about developments. It has all the ingredients for a tense, ticking clock, drama, but in trying to show that reality is not like a TV cop-show, writer Adam McNamara succeeds too well, and gives us a play that doesn’t make the best use of the setting or the characters.

The four police officers, Chris, Davey, Rachel, and Marty are all believable characters. They have their own background issues and attitudes, and, while there is some underlying antagonism and conflict in their relationships, they are united by their job and the pressures of doing it. The four actors playing them effortlessly capture all of this, as well as the frustrations of sitting in the back of a van waiting for something to happen even though you would rather it all ended peacefully.

The frustrating thing about the play is that the lives of the four have the potential for great drama, but it’s constrained by the van and the real-time duration of the play. There is no room for their situations to develop. The scene outside the van intrudes on their lives at the end of the play, but before that the van is just the literal and metaphorical vehicle that brings them together. The earpiece messages do little more than interrupt what is going on inside the van. They seldom create a real shift in the story, but suggest that there is a tense situation unfolding elsewhere.

It’s very true to life, but the bits that would make the best drama are either outside the van or outside the timeframe of the play.

Runs until 26 August 2017 | Image: Contributed

Review Overview

The Reviews Hub Score

Realistic, but lacking real drama.

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The Reviews Hub - Scotland

The Scotland team is under the editorship of Lauren Humphreys. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.

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