Edinburgh Festival 97: Theatre: The Hanging Tree

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The Independent Culture
"Wayne was what he was paid to be - a legend - and that's good enough for me," says John, an ex-copper whose drab existence on an imploding housing estate in the west of Scotland is spiced up by watching TV westerns, dressing up like his cowboy heroes for line-dancing sessions - and partaking in a spot of vigilantism.

Though it has an interesting conceit - summoning up the spirit of the Wild West in a modern-day urban ghetto - Nicola McCartney's play for LookOut Theatre never allows these two world to collide in any particularly insightful way in its law-enforcing central character. John heads towards a gun-toting showdown with the drug dealer he holds responsible for the death of his son, but this seems to have more to do with giving the bloated plot a crack of the whip than exploring the rugged individualism so sentimentalised on screen. The flaws in his character (the domestic violence, adultery) feel more like inconsistencies than thought-provoking ambiguities.

The action may keep you watching, but it kicks up too much dust, obscuring glimpses of a community whose environment is so neglected that survival requires daily acts of true grit.

Traverse (Venue 15). To 30 Aug (0131-228 1404)