Posts Tagged ‘There Is A War’

Chalk and cheese. The writing of this second pairing of new plays at the National’s ‘pop-up’ theatre is nowhere near as good as the first, I’m afraid. It’s hard to see how they went through the same editorial process as they feel like the writers needed help turning interesting ideas into plays.

Given that I don’t really like monologues and can’t stand cricket, Nightwatchman was always going to be a struggle. Abirami is a British Sri Lanka female cricketer about to represent England in a test match at Lords and her monologue takes place at an indoor practice crease the day before. Prasanna Puwanarajah’s play explores the Sri Lankan Tamil situation and in particular the attitudes of British Sri Lankan’s. Much of her monologue is directly spoken to her deceased father. The problem with it is that it is more of a ramble than a narrative and occasionally becomes a rant. It desperately need some structure and editing. Actress Stephanie Street works wonders with the material she’s got to work with and the cricketing effects are excellent.

Tom Basman’s There Is A War is an absurdist surreal fantasy during a war between the blues and the greys. New doctor Anne is trying to make her way to her post in a military hospital. Along the way she meets a host of peripheral participants including a dance therapist, clown, chaplain and entertainer as well as some soldiers. Basden’s point seems to be the pointlessness of war with participants not even knowing what they are fighting for and why. When she arrives, she finds that the hospital itself is now a war zone where the orange are fighting the reds. This is a mass of ideas downloaded without much attempt to create an effective narrative. It’s sometimes intriguing, sometimes funny but often irritating. There’s nothing wrong with the staging or the performances, it’s just a work that isn’t ready and therefore rather a waste of c.20 performers and the NT technical resources.

It’s almost as if the NT wanted to show us a pair of stage ready plays and a pair that are work-in-progress, because that’s how different they seem to me. A great shame DF 2 didn’t live up to the promise of DF 1.

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