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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Rock, Paper, Scissors

The unrelenting onward march of technology. The thrill of unbridled power. And, er, puffins. Forty-six million, two hundred thousand puffins. Rock, Paper, Scissors takes us way back to 1995, to a lighthouse on Muckle Flugga, Scotland. It’s home to Pat (Rob Flanagan) and Ronnie (Sean Barker), a whole lot of birdlife, and not much else […]
By Sophie Tarr
August 03, 2009
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Rock, Paper, Scissors

The unrelenting onward march of technology. The thrill of unbridled power. And, er, puffins. Forty-six million, two hundred thousand puffins. Rock, Paper, Scissors takes us way back to 1995, to a lighthouse on Muckle Flugga, Scotland. It’s home to Pat (Rob Flanagan) and Ronnie (Sean Barker), a whole lot of birdlife, and not much else […]
By Sophie Tarr
August 03, 2009
  shares

The unrelenting onward march of technology. The thrill of unbridled power. And, er, puffins. Forty-six million, two hundred thousand puffins.

Rock, Paper, Scissors takes us way back to 1995, to a lighthouse on Muckle Flugga, Scotland. It’s home to Pat (Rob Flanagan) and Ronnie (Sean Barker), a whole lot of birdlife, and not much else – that is, until the delightfully pretentious young Dougie (Phil Spencer) turns up for a two-week stint of relief work, bringing with him a secret that could spell the end of Pat’s and Ronnie’s way of life forever.

The lighthouse keepers’ attempt at the normalcy of routine is rock, paper, scissors: each week, they face off to determine who will be king for the day. As Dougie’s stay stretches on, what began as a benign distraction from the tedium of life in a lighthouse becomes a high-stakes snatch at power.

In the hands of a lesser director, this might have been a quirky laugh at a couple of men left behind by modernity. Instead, Leland Kean’s production offers a genuinely warm look at the brutality of isolation, and at what might induce a man to live his life apart from the world: as Ronnie points out, “there’s some right ignorant people on that mainland.”

Happily, none of the actors chooses to follow the character-as-caricature path, though Flanagan is a clear standout: his depiction of a stickler-for-the-rules ex-teacher is witty and compassionate and, at times, surprising. Spot-on writing from John AD Fraser doesn’t hurt, either. In fact, after an hour or so of Muckle Flugga, the only nagging doubt is over the attempted Scottish accents – but it’s a forgivable flaw. It may be a pretty tedious game, but Rock, Paper, Scissors makes for excellent theatre.

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