Daniel Portman is soaked in sweat and locked in battle. There is an epic swell of music as he lunges at his opponent. But we’re not in Westeros, where Portman became a Game of Thrones fan favourite as steadfast squire Podrick Payne. He is centre-stage at the Edinburgh fringe, in a red unitard, arm-wrestling an audience member. Portman goes over the top, the crowd cheers and he laps up the applause.
This is Square Go, a late-night rumble of a show in which he plays 13-year-old Glaswegian daydreamer Max, hiding in the school toilets with his mate Stevie, awaiting a fight with a bully. When we meet in an Edinburgh pub, I ask Portman if he always wins the arm wrestles. “Generally, yeah,” he says instantly, with easy confidence, in a voice as deep as his eyes are brown. Occasionally, some “big macho bloke” gets carried away, in which case Portman will remind him: “You’re fighting a 13-year-old boy who’s doing this in his fantasy world. So I’m gonna cheat to win.” He smiles. “Some people take it really seriously.”
Show - Hide - Bravado - Adulthood - Lecturing
This is what the show is about: how boys hide behind bravado right through adulthood. But there’s no lecturing or hand-wringing. At the start, Portman strides in like a wrestling pro, getting the audience to feel the steel and chant his character’s name. Max is psyching himself up for his “square go” – Glaswegian slang for a fight – but soon crashes back to reality. “You’re gonnae get pure tabernacled,” Stevie reminds him.
A high-octane hour, Square Go is performed in the round. “It’s exhausting,” says Portman. “The energy is like a vortex.” He’s superb in the play – as is Gavin Jon Wright as Stevie. It’s clearly a hoot to perform. Portman and Wright, who were in Black Watch together a few...
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Satan's greatest desire is to convince the world he doesn't exist, and he has quite nearly succeeded.