16 May 2003
I wanted to write something about the twentieth century and I wanted to write something about economics and I wanted to write about men and it turned into Gagarin Way. A comedy. I didn’ expect it to be a comedy but when you consider the themes which emerged while I wrote it – Marxist and Hegelian theories of history, anarchism, psychopathology, existentialism, mental illness, political terrorism, nihilism, globalisation and the crisis in masculinity – then it couldn’t really be anything else.
Gagarin Way is a shocking, blacker-then-black comedy, a foul-mouthed violent satire in the Mamet mould, with the central character behaving astonishingly like a modern day Jimmy (Look Back In Anger) Porter, trashing around in a world where there are no good brave causes left.
A tight four-hander, it is set in a warehouse in Fife. This was one of the few areas where the sitting MP was a communist in the Sixties, and passionate political commitment was meat and drink to the miners and shipbuilders.
But this is now, and the mines and ships are history. Tom, an innocent graduate in politics, economics and a smattering of philosophy, has become embroiled in a heist in which two working-class wannabe revolutionaries have kidnapped a businessman. Their declared intention is to kill him as a protest against global capitalism, or as they put it, because “we’ve had enough of everythin”. But it all goes hilariously, hideously wrong. (…)
What makes Burke stand out, however, is that for all the play’s jokiness, cynicism and contrived cleverness he has something to say about the world today which makes him a rarity among contemporary playwrights. A distinctive voice and bold talent, well worth listening to.
Georgina Brown, Mail on Sunday