Premiered in 2007 at Glasgow’s Oran Mor as part of its lunchtime theatre programme A Play, a Pie a Pint, Paddy Cunneen’s knife-crime drama Fleeto is revived at the Fringe this year as part of a double bill with its sister piece Wee Andy. It’s a dark, visceral and highly intelligent production that parallels a story from The Iliad, couched in the violent street code and brutally coarse language of gangland Glasgow (if you’re troubled by the ‘C’ word, stay well clear) told in the dramatic iambic pentameter of a Shakespearean tragedy.
After his mate is slashed by Asian youths, Mackie (Jordan McCurrach)—a teenager from the wrong side of the tracks—is cajoled by alpha-Ned Kenzie (Neil Leiper) into taking random revenge by stabbing a white student. It sends him on a sickening downwards spiral towards a cathartic meeting with the murdered boy’s despairing mother.
The first half-hour races by rhythmically with frightening pace and intensity. Then the play settles into a more thoughtful and reflective groove, taking aim at both the societal ills of slum Scotland and middle-class ignorance of problems they too rarely need confront.
Where so much ‘issue’-based theatre can be staid and preachy, Cunneen and a uniformly outstanding cast—particularly McCurrach and Leiper, young actors with very exciting futures both, and Steven McNicoll as the sorrowful Falklands vet CID officer—turn this into an elemental tale of angry young men that will resonate widely.