NUCLEAR WAR &the songs for Wenda
By Simon Stephens.
Jerwood Upstairs, The Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London SW1W 8AS to 6 May 2017.
Tues – Sat 7.45pm Mat Sat & Thu 3pm May 2, 3, 5 at 9.15pm/
Runs 45 mins No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7565 5000
Review: William Russell 28 April
Something awful has happened
This is one of those mystifying evenings which only can happen in a theatre – it would not work on film or on television. It needs that magic bond between audience and performer that can only work in a theatre Not that it worked for everyone when I saw it. The piece only lasts 45 minutes but several people sneaked out 20 minutes in clearly puzzled as to what was going on. But it was their loss.
Nuclear War is a fusion of words and movement, of sound and light which seems to be about the aftermath of some cataclysmic happening like nuclear war. The audience sit round four sides of a vast room seated in mismatched dining chairs. In the middle are the cast and some pieces of household equipment, a table lamp which flickers and a couple of pot plants, the detritus of a civilisation perhaps. The words are spoken by Maureen Beattie, the others writhe, don stocking masks, consume tangerines and rush round the room in a frenzy collecting tea cups, glasses of water and heading off to have a drink of milk all against a background of sound and some music.
If it sounds crazy, well it is. Does it mean something? It must to its creators. To the audience? Who knows, Meaning is not what it is about, experiencing something, however, is – and it is certainly an experience. Maybe it is still a work in progress, or maybe this is how it is going to remain. Either way it doesn’t much matter. Just savour the experience of this collaboration between Simon Stephens and the choreographer Imogen Knight.
Director Imogen Knight.
Designer: Chloe Lamford.
Lighting Designer: Lee Curran.
Composer: Elizabeth Bernholz.
Sound Designer: Peter Rice.
Costume Supervisor: Holly White.