The age of the working-class hero, which peaked in the early 1960s, has clearly not entirely passed. Scotsman Gregory Burke's working class credentials - he worked as a dishwasher in order to find time to write then went back to a "real" job in a factory - have got the London glitterati all worked up.
Burke's play, Gagarin Way - an evocatively named (after the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin) street in a left-leaning working class district - involves a failed heist and a kidnap in a factory, and opens with a ten minute joke about French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Those who know the philosopher's work might well think that his entire career was an extended joke, but the fact that a working-class Scottish drop-out has even heard of him clearly amuses the theatrical establishment who, in the form of the Royal National Theatre, have snapped up his play before the Edinburgh Festival even opens.
Burke's attitude to fame seems admirably grounded - "I know it's downhill from here - that's my motto." Though he should be warned, of course, that the London literary scene is far more vicious than anything he may have experienced in the backstreets of Fife, where Gagarin Way is set.
Gagarin Way is at the Traverse Theatre.
—by Paul Webb Theatrenow