Theatre Airport Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

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The Independent Culture
Airports are hell. Arrivals, departures, lost belongings and longings, and international intrigue of all shades are a daily occurrence.

The ambitiously well-travelled Suspect Culture - led by playwright David Greig and actor / director Graham Eatough - take this as their starting- point for a devised exploration of national identity. A series of wry snapshots of lives en route and foreigners abroad transforms the airport into a limboland microcosm of the global village, with rules and rituals that are both complex and yet obvious enough for it to be an anthropologists' delight.

A group of Scots and Spanish performers has spent the past month developing the piece from scratch, while also working towards a performance style rooted in both text and gesture. In less skilled hands this might have ended up as a freeform indulgence. As it is, it's a polished, witty and intelligent exercise in form, structure and content that transcends its devised origins to find some strange kind of cohesion. Much of the action takes place on two working conveyor belts and a pair of luggage trolleys, on which we're transported from check-in lounge to customs, finishing off on the final flight home.

Among all this is a trio of loose narratives in which the transitory nature of relationships is exposed as a mere stopping-off point between one place and the next. It comes across as The Love Boat with brains, especially with its cheesy muzak soundtrack, which is now hip but used to be the sort of thing we Brits played to make-believe we were jet-setting cosmopolitans, when the truth was usually a packaged tour to Majorca and a half-built hotel.

While the piece is riddled with Suspect Culture's familiar preoccupations with nationhood and identity, the lightness of touch and sheer joie de vivre on display are a new departure for the company. Maybe that's down to the input from the performers and how they gelled as a working unit - an essential prerequisite to save such work from disappearing up its own flight deck. Internationalism in action is something we should all be grateful for.

Of course, there are flaws. The piece is dragged out a good 10 minutes too long, and, although fine in themselves, the implicit meaning of each physical tic - integral to the working process and exclusive to each performer - can get lost in translation. When it hits the mark, though, it's a turbo-charged, twin-engined delight, well worth booking up for and hanging round for the ride. Executive class, of course.

n To Sat. Booking: 0131-228 1404

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