In a ‘luxury contentment facility’, hundreds of elderly people are kept in a state of suspended animation pending their ultimate fate: to be served up as someone’s dish of the day.
Set in a future where climate disaster has made all animals and other sources of food extinct, Battery Farm is a new short work by Gregory Burke, playwright behind several Scottish theatrical milestones, including Gagarin Way and Black Watch.
Here however, you feel Burke has scribbled down a rough idea on the back of a napkin after suffering the after effects of a dodgy kebab. Though, to his credit, the premise – with its cannabilistic solution to keeping the human race alive – adds an original twist to the well-trodden climate disaster scenario.
Battery Farm is played for laughs, with a mixture of satire and farce keeping the jokes afloat. Most work, although some of the satirical asides are a little on the laboured side (“Are you a man or a mouse?” – “What’s a mouse?”).
The welcome appearance of Andy Gray as the inhabitant of Row NN, Pod 777 elevates the play into something altogether more enjoyable. He brings his Frankie Howerd-like mugging, finely-tuned comic timing and rubber-faced expressions to the part, and these provide more comedic moments than the plot or dialogue combined.
Alan Bisset & Denise Hoey also entertain as the bickering and flirtatious – though sometimes over-earnestly portrayed – facility assistants.
Ultimately, the production is hard to dislike; it cracks along at a good pace and adds comic variety to the previous flavours served up as part of the Play, Pie & A Pint season.
And as long as you don’t go along expecting another Black Watch, Battery Farm’s interesting premise and Gray’s delivery will provide you several thought-provoking laughs and memorable scenes (at least one of which – involving Gray and a certain button – you’ll perhaps wish you hadn’t witnessed so soon after lunch…).