Archive | April, 2012

The Great Lie of The Western World

19 Apr

Speak softly and carry a big stick. This could be the motto of Cathode Ray Tube and it is exemplified in their latest work The Great Lie of the Western World.

Despite the quiet naturalism, this is theatre going big game hunting.

Call a play The Great Lie and you raise the question ‘What is that lie?’

Is it ‘We are free’?

Is it ‘We are not free’?

I think the second of these – the denial of freedom – is the great lie. It’s a wonderful convenience, absolving us of responsibility and denying the enormous privilege of our lives.

Is this what the play suggests? Who cares? The strength of Alistair Powning and Michael Booth’s script is that audiences will leave asking questions not about the play but about themselves.

The performances are powerful because of their naturalism, which doesn’t always follow for me. I dislike the idea of truth in theatre, and think it’s one of the medium sized lies of the Western World. But this team is incredibly engaging, with Kate Skinner the standout.

See this for the script, the performances, but most of all, see it for the post show discussions. And ask yourself, ask your friends: what are the cultural myths that hold us back?

Veronica Kaye

The Great Lie of the Western World

TAP Gallery til April 29

Breaker Morant

17 Apr

Breaker Morant is a very rich myth. Gareth Boylan’s production of Kenneth G Ross’ play tells it simply and effectively. 

Breaker Morant is a myth about authority. During the Boer War, Harry Morant and Peter Handcock were charged with shooting prisoners of war. A surface reading is that Morant and Handcock were let down by those in power. This is a seductive reading. It makes life easier for anyone who chooses to see themselves as small.

Another reading is that we expect authority to absolve us of personal responsibility.  Morant and Handcock were real people and judgements on their decisions are way beyond my brief. But the play gets dreadfully close to offering the Nuremburg defence – “I was told to do it”. It’s a testament to the strength of this play and production that we can like the characters. Boylan has elicited strong performances from the entire cast, bringing to the fore the question that charges this piece: are the defendants heroes?  

Breaker Morant is a courtroom drama based on real events. I would argue all theatre is – but it’s the audience’s values that are in the dock.

Veronica Kaye

Breaker Morant

Seymour Centre til 21 April

Lord of the Flies

13 Apr

Last night at New Theatre we were presented with a spectacle of brutality and barbarism, a savage world of tooth and claw, barely hidden behind the thinnest veneer of civilization. But then the champagne ran out, and we were all politely ushered out of the foyer and into the street, to continue our revels elsewhere.

Director Anthony Skuse’s production of Lord of the Flies – tight, disciplined, and inspired – puts the lie to William Golding’s myth of the savagery barely below the surface.

Written after the horrors of World War Two and during the Cold War threat of nuclear holocaust, Golding’s novel must have rang true for many people.

This stage adaptation by Nigel Williams doesn’t ask an audience to consider the truth of the myth. The powerful performances from the entire cast make it quite believable.

What is valuable about this play is that it reminds us that the question is not merely “Is this true?” (The only honest answer to which is “who knows, and who could know, humanity’s ‘true’ nature?”)

What a strong production like this does is remind us that the question is also “What is the impact of me believing this myth to be true?” What behaviour is encouraged, what choices are endorsed, by the myth encapsulated in the slogan “All men are born evil”?

As our revels continued elsewhere, this question was discussed, in depth and happily without heat. We were almost civilized.

Veronica Kaye

Lord of the Flies

New Theatre  until 12 May