Theatre review: Innovative In The Wars captivating

Juliet O'Brien's solo show is an engaging and animated attempt to look at wars from a different perspective.
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Juliet O'Brien's solo show is an engaging and animated attempt to look at wars from a different perspective.

In The Wars, By Juliet O'Brien, Directed by Jorge Pico, Bats Theatre, until August 26. 

 

The idea of creating stories for stage and screen out of war situations is as old as war itself but rarely has it been done as uniquely and innovatively as Juliet O'Brien does in her solo show In The Wars.

The idea for the stories, as described in the programme notes, are that they are all based on true incidents and told through the prism of an object or form caught up in a war.

And the development of these stories and the way O'Brien expresses them in performance makes for a fascinating piece of theatre.

O'Brien's story-telling style is engaging and animated and brings the stories to life, often quite humorously.

The first group of stories include a Barbie doll left in the rubble of a war-torn city talking about being rescued by its owner and family and a pair of boots on the feet of a father being dragged out by a child desperate to overcome hisweight and size.

Also with its humour is a dog psychiatrist, counselling animals suffering frompost-traumatic disorder, particularly a sniffer dog from Afghanistan who failed in its attempt to locate an incendiary device.

Another story, although somewhat obscure, is a gold ring being pulled from the finger of a dismembered arm and the journey the ring took to get where it is on the owner's finger.

The final story, however, of a mother telling her daughter about her grandfather who fought in World War I is less effective and lacks the energy and originality of the previous stories. The grandfather was a tailor and the object of this story is a jacket, perfectly made with seamless stitching.

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It is little more than a family story that has been told by many people over many years and ends O'Brien's show on a rather low and lacklustre note.

However up to that point her creative writing style and invigorating stage presence in putting her stories across is captivating, made more so by the original and evocative music composed by Gareth Farr that plays at appropriate moments. 

 - Stuff

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