Skip to main content

What I Heard About Iraq

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
3 stars
When Simon Levy’s dramatisation of Eliot Weinberger’s brilliant 2005 London Review Of Books article opened in Edinburgh last year, the mess of the ongoing Iraq war was already plain to see. By chopping up the double-thinking litany of hear-say, half-truths and Chinese whispers spewed from the mouths of presidents, prime ministers and other liars, it was a dramatic gift to the play’s makers. If it is to become more than just archival, though, journalistic theatre such as this needs constant on the hoof rewrites. Lucky for director Hannah Eidinow, then, that the prevailing catalogue of gaffes and goofs provides such rich pickings.

Carved up between five performers who adopt sartorial representations of both the establishment and those attempting to cut through the spin, the play’s delivery is simple, matter-of-fact and requires little staging beyond a backdrop of slides. As illuminating as this barrage of information is, taking the moral high ground in such a fashion is an easy trick requiring little in the way of artistry beyond Weinberger’s original prose. There’s nothing, after all, funny about a Tony Blair impression anymore. So, when the actors adopt that familiar pose of palms-together piety, there is tellingly, and quite rightly, not a laugh in the house.

While there’s no mention yet either of Private Windsor’s withdrawal from the front-line, nor Gordon Brown’s vote-craving promise to remove all troops from Iraq, material from as recent as only a few weeks ago has been incorporated. This acknowledgement that there is still no conclusion to a still rolling drama is what makes Weinberger’s text such a vital document. Transposed to spoken-word, its naming of the guilty is an intermittently powerful experience.

The Herald, May 21st 2007

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Suzy Glass – Message from the Skies

Freedom of movement matters to Suzy Glass, the arts and events producer currently overseeing the second edition of Message from the Skies.This animated literary derive around the city forms part of this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay programme, and runs right through till Burns’ Night. Glass’ concerns are inherent in the event itself, which has commissioned six writers from different disciplines and experiences to each pen a love letter to Europe. Each writer has then paired up with a composer and visual artist or film-maker, with the results of each collaboration projected in monumental fashion on the walls of one of half a dozen of the capital’s most iconic buildings.
With venues stretching from the south side of Edinburgh to Leith, and with one city centre stop requiring a walk up Calton Hill, there is considerable legwork required to complete the circuit. It shouldn’t be considered a race, however, and audiences are free to move between venues at their leisure, visiting each site on d…

Kieran Hurley – Mouthpiece

Things have changed since Kieran Hurley first began writing the play that would become Mouthpiece, which opens at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh this weekend. At the time, Hurley was, in his own words, “quite new on the scene.” As a writer and performer, he had already scored hits with Beats and Chalk Farm, two pieces that put him on the map with a new generation of theatre-makers steeped in an equally new wave of grassroots opposition that drew from the iconography of revolutions past. Where Beats looked at the politicisation of 1990s club culture, Chalk Farm, co-written with AJ Taudevin, focused on a teenage boy caught up in the 2011 London riots.
More plays followed. Some, like Heads Up used the same solo story-telling aesthetic to look at an everyday apocalypse. More recently, Square Go, written with Gary McNair, dissected toxic masculinity through a school playground fight.
All the while as Hurley developed as a writer, from new kid on the block to established provocateur, this…

Rob Drummond – The Mack

Rob Drummond was at home in England when he looked at the news feed on his phone, and saw a post about the fire at Glasgow School of Art. It was June 2018, and the writer and performer behind such hits as Grain in the Blood, Bullet Catch and Our Fathers initially presumed the post was to mark the fourth anniversary of the 2014 blaze in GSA’s Mackintosh Building, which was undergoing a major restoration after much of it was destroyed.
As it turned out, the news was far worse, as reports of a second fire were beamed across the world. As someone who had taken Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s iconic construction for granted while living in Glasgow, Drummond was as stunned as anyone else with even a passing relationship with the Mack.
While emotions continue to run high in response to the disaster, Drummond channelled his thoughts on all this into what he does best. The result is The Mack, a new play that forms part of Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie and a Pint lunchtime theatre season in Glasgow prior …