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Black Watch Review

Black Watch Review

Review by Kevin List

Black Watch
TSB Bank Arena
22 February to 9 March
http://www.nzfestival.nzpost.co.nz/theatre/black-watch for details and bookings


Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music danced away the heartache – the actors of Black Watch dance themselves through a number of conflagurations throughout history and finally dance through a skirmish with insurgents in modern day Iraq.

Dancing is not something one would expect in a war movie and indeed its not something that was expected in a theatrical production about the Iraq war and a gaggle of Scottish soldiers serving there.

The usual suspects are all there in 'Black Watch' – the fresh faced recruit, the bonkers one, the one that isn't bonkers. In fact the cast is possibly a little large to really get to grips with all the lads of the 'Watch.

For the most part the action is set in either a pub somewhere in Scotland (post-Iraq) and a base somewhere in the triangle of death in Iraq circa 2004. The action in Iraq is a flashback and the device used to get there is an interview conducted by a TV researcher.

Given the gormless questions asked by the TV researcher it's somewhat of a surprise that it takes nearly all of the play to have the prospect of physical violence foisted upon him.

Needless to say the squad/unit/lads have suffered some form of trauma in Iraq and this is shown at the end (bring earplugs).

For those of a sensitive nature there is rather a lot of swearing including plenty of the F and C words. Given that the swearing is in a foreign language (Scottish) the offensive language comes across as somehow less offensive.

For someone who doesn't like theatre 'Black Watch' is actually quite a good play however it is unlikely to knock 'Apocalypse Now' or Peckinpah's 'Cross of Iron' off the top shelf. Which is kind of what this review has been aimed at.

The suspension of disbelief needed for 'Black Watch' to work properly is not assisted by looking across past the actors at various MPs, TV personalities and media types watching from thirty feet away.

********

Black Watch on the Arts Festival Website (includes video sample)
TV3 Video - Iraq war play 'Black Watch' opens in Wellington
Full Scoop Coverage: Arts Festival 2008


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