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Edinburgh Fringe 2009

The Montana Ranch

Rhesus Productions & Actors Ensemble of Berkley

Venue: C Central, Carlton Hotel, North Bridge


Low Down

Two eco-scam artists are raising millions of dollars for a fake enviromental threat and planning to take off to Tahiti with the cash. One of them however, decides to see what it’s like with the activists, joining them in their phony campaign he comes back with an activist girlfriend. With her appearance, things get out of hand.


This is an interesting subject and makes one feel very sad people like this exist. The lead scammer, Ruben, is particularly repugnant and unashamedly so, telling us he has ‘no conscience’. The second scammer, ‘A’, does however, and a cynic would say this is his weak spot for it allows the third character, Beth, to discover the scam and set the dramatic ball rolling.

It is a tightly structured play yet basically a simple one. If it weren’t for the subject it would be any other drama about two bad guys, one with and one without a conscience, and the appearance of a girl who ruins their heinous plan. The ending is left open which seemed odd when the narrative is so conventional.
The actors do a pretty good job. Scott Cagney as Ruben acts with realistic nastiness and energy. The scenes between A (David Murgittroyd) and Beth (Keri Costa) are weaker however, for they speak without much conviction and lack chemistry. The staging and design are consistent with traditional theatre and do the job of denoting the only space, an office.
Dougherty has done a good thing exposing this phenomenon, and has produced a decent and timely play, yet as a dramatic story it is rather conventional. Perhaps it would have been more interesting if it was less concerned with dramatic tension and instead further discusses the element of total wrongness in such a deception; especially in the name of environment, which to a lot of us is believed to be the the most pressing issue facing the human race. And how, in the time of Obama, America reacts to it.
The character ‘A’ suggests to Ruben that they make amends by spending the money on buying some land under threat, and this in fact is something that any of us with money can do – buying acres of rainforest for example. It would have been nice to see this happen, and give audience members the idea, for if there is one matter where we are in dire need of ideas and positive acts, it is global warming and the environment. Get the bad guy!