02 August 2006

"It's like the Perth Road on a Saturday night...only with mortars"

So, day 1, show 1, National Theatre of Scotland's BlackWatch. And another excellent start to the Fringe. The staging was ambitious but well managed, the performances were of a uniformly (no pun intended!) high standard, and the writing was right on the button. A challenging and thought-provoking analysis of the modern Scottish squaddie, that repeatedly demolishes and confirms your beliefs, prejudices and hopes.

The "passing show" strucutre usually worked to the show's credit and lightened what could have been a very sombre evening but I felt the contruction at times needed a bit of re-arrangement to more effectively highlight the extremes of desert (or, indeed, any) warfare. Perhaps the most striking parallel was the clear link made between the modern army regular and the mineworker or shipbuilder of 40 years ago. It remains a dirty job, but someone has to do it and that someone tends to be sons from the more deprived end of society.

My only criticism would be that at times the "Dance and Physical Theatre" aspects went on a bit too long. I would particularly single out the closing "tattoo", although part of me suspects this was intended to signify the seemingly endless pointlessness of some aspects of the military life. The show's greatest strength, however, is its merciless skewering of all the attempts at political point-scoring (veiled or otherwise) using the lives of young men who consider themselves to be "just doing their job."

NTW (Needless Theatrical Wank) : Most of the choreographed fight scenes lacked the bite and impact of the more "casual" violence in the pub.

JTD (Justified Theatrical Device) : Either "letters from home" or the initial emergence of the fatigue-clad soldiers (they'll get through a lot of baize - the good people of Shrewsbury must be rubbing their hands in glee)

In other observations of Edinburgh in August 2006; I'm not happy with the large cow being constructed in Bristo Square or the seemingly regulation fly-postering that has taken place in the past few days - which seems to me to have too much of a hint of corporate muscle about it. I'm loving the massive banners draped on the Kirk Assembly though. That's probably rather contradictory I know. (I like the inside decor of Nazi rallies but not the publicity?).

Strangest feeling is one of being overwhelmed by the Fringe in a way I never have before, but this is probably due to having the new flat etc. to deal with.


Anonymous said...

The Perth Road... Dundee? That would make sense (being the Blackwatch) but, maybe not.
You now know that I know about this site. Look forward to the other reviews (makes me a little homesick but, eh, that's what moving away was meant to induce).

Btw: have been working on Naked Video at work. Yes, the '80s sketch is out on DVD soon, my friends. Can't decide if it's genius or utter...

CCB said...

It does refer to Dundee, Alice. Being a civilised person, I obviously do not hail from Dundee but I wasn't aware the Perth Road was a Saturday night hotspot. However that is what is said in the play.

Enjoy the rest of the reviews.