Monday 3 November 2008

Black Watch review

We went to see Black Watch at St. Ann's Warehouse in DUMBO on friday. Jesus I love DUMBO, my heart beats faster as I walk down Clark street. It was a crisp, clear afternoon, and we drank coffee as we walked under the Manhattan Bridge (the one I am in love with) and went to join the audience scene in the theatre.

It was quite a show. Very energetic, beautifully choreographed, and the first piece of theatre that I have seen that addresses the Iraq/Afghanistan conflict from the perspective of some of the soldiers from the Black Watch brigade, a 300 year old Scottish institution largely formed from Tayside working class men, who have fought "30 bloody Cullodens" in various warzones throughout the world, and how this one was different. The show was staged in traverse, ie. audience on either side of the performing area, which was a great idea for the dance sequences, but pretty terrible for the more intimate moments. They seemed to be using actual footage from the shock and awe raids, and at times the actors seemed tired, not surprisingly, given their extraordinary performance schedules on this show.

To be honest, the publicity for the show is a bit ridiculously heavy handed, but it is the kind of theatre that reconnects with one of theatre's lifeblood functions: to delve into the current affairs of our time, bring news stories to life, vividly, in ways that television or even film just cannot. There is a poetic licence available in theatre that is entirely particular to the stage, and a kind of language is created within the best productions, within which audience, actors and all can take off together and fly.

I am also some kind of a sucker for non-showyoffy men singing in groups, and there was plenty of singing in this show. The show has been running for two years all over the world, and this run in St. Ann's is being billed as the last New York city performances. If you care about theatre, you probably just have to go.

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