The Theatreguide.London Review
Donmar Warehouse Theatre February-March 2020
If war is by its very
nature disorganised, then absolute war must mean absolute chaos.
forty-minute play seems to carry this premise to
its logical conclusion. But its method is so oblique and its
metaphoric vocabulary so opaque as to be more frustrating than
A child witnesses some
atrocities she cannot understand
but will never forget. A woman calmly does her needlework while her
husband tortures traitors.
A soldier on leave
reports that last
year's allies and now enemies and vice-versa. The animals of the
world join in the war, the alligators siding with one country, the
birds with another, while the deer, who were against us, have
switched sides and are now our allies.
In the middle of this is
appears to be an extreme trivialisation, as artists are paid to
design ever-more-elaborate hats for weekly fashion parades to
distract the populace.
All expectations or laws
of physics ('The
Bolivians are working with gravity') are being negated in the general
disintegration of order.
I think. Maybe.
Or maybe the play is
something else or, as a programme note suggests, is Beckett-like in
its extreme compression and requires dedicated unpacking.
this somewhat static revival by Lyndsey Turner, seemingly more
interested in designer Lizzie Clachan's striking visual images, does
little to clarify meanings, characterisations or even plot lines,
while the cast too often seem unsure just who they are supposed to
When the play stopped –
not ended, just stopped abruptly –
the woman next to me asked 'What was it about?'
'It was about forty minutes long' was all I could, or can now say.
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