Theatre review: The Communist Threat
Theatre review: The Communist Threat

Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: The Communist Threat, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Joyce McMillan ★★★ THE year is 1950, and in a hotel room in Vienna, two men confront one another. Both work for Britain’s secret service, MI6, but Kip is a classic product of public school and Oxbridge, while Albert has a working-class accent, …

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Edinburgh Festival

Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: The Communist Threat, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Joyce McMillan

★★★

THE year is 1950, and in a hotel room in Vienna, two men confront one another. Both work for Britain’s secret service, MI6, but Kip is a classic product of public school and Oxbridge, while Albert has a working-class accent, and is at first dismissed by his colleague as some kind of junior employee, the kind of chap who might have made sergeant during the war, with a bit of luck.

The tables are soon turned, though, in David Holmes and Kieran O’Rourke’s brisk and clever short drama for the Rusted Dust company, when it turns out that the Oxbridge chap is the one under suspicion as to his loyalties, while his colleague is acting on behalf of MI6 management.

The conversation gradually becomes dominated by a third, absent figure, Kip’s homosexual lover, a clever chap with communist leanings who has been caught passing secrets to the Soviets. It’s this third man’s recklessness – or need to act on his political beliefs – that leaves Kip in a dangerous impasse between love for his partner and love for his country.

And although the play only touches lightly on the enduring questions about patriotism and nationhood it claims to explore, it does a fine job of capturing the class and Cold War politics of a particular time; a time when love between two men still hardly dared to speak its name, and was enough to send thousands into exile, from their country, their families and communities, or from themselves.

Zoo Southside (Venue 82), run ended

Published in The Scotsman on 29 August 2015

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