Monday, June 03, 2013

Black Watch

Black Watch photo IMG_20130530_195207_zps82bef63d.jpg Last week I saw the National Theatre of Scotland's Black Watch, a show based on the experiences of Scottish infantrymen in the Iraq War. It's being presented in the vast indoor space of the drill court of The Armory. The audience sits on 2 steep banks of risers facing each other across a long, narrow playing area. The show combines theater, choreographed movement, singing, video, & spectacle & is an affectionate & unidealized portrait of the young soldiers of the Black Watch, a Scottish regiment dating back to the 18th century.

The skeletal plot moves back and forth between the soldiers gathered at a pub after the Iraq War & scenes of the war itself. Clever use of props, lighting, & sound make the transitions instantaneous. The audience applauded a set piece in which Cammy, the one character who speaks directly to the audience, gives us a history of the regiment's uniforms as the other actors dress him in each one, flipping him every which way in the process. The production has a powerful sound system, & the combat scenes' explosions shake the seats.

The all-male cast of 10 give sincere performances & are physically strong, never tiring during the 2-hour, intermissionless show. The characters' Scottish dialect was occasionally impenetrable to me. The words "fuck," "cunt," & "shite" seem to make up a third of the dialogue. Stuart Martin has a charismatic swagger as Cammy, & Robert Jack is convincing as both a naive interviewer & a snapping sargeant.

At the end, as if on cue, the audience rose for a standing ovation. A family sat next to me. On their arrival, the mother began berating her teenage son, who then spent most of the performance reaching his head between his knees.

§ The National Theatre of Scotland

Black Watch
By Gregory Burke
Directed by John Tiffany

Macca: Cameron Barnes
Stewarty: Benjamin Davies
Kenzie: Scott Fletcher
Fraz: Andrew Fraser
Writer/Sergeant: Robert Jack
Officer/Lord Elgin: Stephen McCole
Rossco: Adam McNamara
Cammy: Stuart Martin
Granty: Richard Rankin
Nabsy: Gavin Jon Wright

Armory Community Center
Thursday, 30 May, 2013, 8p

No comments: