Hyperlynx

John McGrath

Floodtide at the Tricycle

(2002)

Review by Philip Fisher

This transfer from Edinburgh was John McGrath's last play. He has a tremendous reputation for his work in Scotland and has long been a supporter of radical left wing interests.

Hyperlynx is a one-woman show, narrated by Elizabeth MacLennan playing Heather, a senior dignitary in MI5. She has been working on Iran and Afghanistan for some years and is transferred away to a less glamorous post, attempting to infiltrate anti-globalisation protest groups.

Surprisingly for someone in her position, her personal views are very left wing. This has possibly been caused by the mysterious death of her husband, Tim, on active service in Sudan.

The first half of the play reads rather like a polemical article in a left-wing magazine. It unremittingly attacks the multinational global giants and the English and American governments that have supported them. While it is not balanced, it does provide a remarkable amount of information about some rather nefarious goings-on surrounding the large global companies that now, arguably control the Western World.

This may be informative but, except for those with radical views themselves, it may prove rather indigestible.

The second half of the play was written completely separately and updates the views of Heather to take into account her immediate reactions to the shocking events of 11th September 2001.

While she is deeply traumatised, in a few moments that show Elizabeth MacLennan's performance at its best, she then provides a kind of analysis of events and the historical lead-up to them. This is clearly John McGrath attempting to organise his own mixed reactions to the dreadful carnage.

The two parts do not fit together particularly well despite allusions to the relationship between the peaceful anti-globalisation protesters and the altogether more violent protesters against the United States.

While this is an interesting play with a good performance, it might have worked far better as an essay. Dare one say it, the injection of some alternative views even if only mild would have been most welcome. It is, however, an interesting insight into an unreconstructed poetic, Socialist mind.