Note: This review is from the 2018 Fringe

The Scottish writers and performers Kieran Hurley and Gary McNair have teamed up to present Square Go. The performance tells the story of Max (Scott Fletcher). He is a young boy who is about to have a “square go” with the local bully and hard man of his school, Danny Guthrie. Max is looking to his friend Stevie Nimmo (Gavin Wright) for confidence, but all the pair seem to do is argue and make fun of each other in their distinctive colloquial and childlike manner.

Kieran Hurley and Gary McNair have got the banter down to tee, with the script dripping with slang and insults in every sentence. The setting is also employed to its full use. Square Go takes place in the Roundabout towards the back of Summerhall. The venue is in the round, with the audience sat around the perimeter of the stage, looking down on the performance. The staging makes the venue feel like a wrestling ring, where the audience are encouraged to cheer Max and Stevie on at every opportunity. This also causes us to be complicit in the fight. We are behind little Max as he decides whether to fight or run. But we are also passive and can only watch as the young boy attempts to live up to the expectations of his absent father.

At times the performance takes a pensive and thoughtful tone. At one point Max notices that it is the boys at school that have nothing, who are the most angry and that feel they have a point to prove. Children from working class backgrounds and who live in poverty are frequently failed by the school system and the performance highlights that violence and male bravado is often used to cover this. The idea of male mental health and the need to talk is presented subtlety behind the raucous and extravagant comedy performance.

The soundtrack to Square Go sets the mood and adds to the frantic nature of the conflict. It is also important to note that the music was composed by the remaining members of the band Frightened Rabbit who completed the soundtrack after the sad loss of much missed and talented singer Scott Hutchison.