Getting its first staging for three decades, Tony Harrison‘s World War I-set play Square Rounds is based on true events and explores the devastating impact of chemical warfare and weapons of mass destruction. Director Jimmy Walters talked to Rev Stan about its relevance today and paring the play down for an intimate performance space.
Square Rounds was last performed 30 years ago at the National Theatre. Why is it ripe for revival?
It feels more relevant now than it was in 1992 in some ways. It tackles gun control, the power of trigger-happy populist rhetoric and addresses the ongoing conflict between the ideologies of Christianity and Islam.
It has an all-female cast. What dynamic does that add to the play and storytelling?
We open with six munitionettes in a factory. At the very same time, these women were taking on the roles of men; they go one step further and play the men with a bit of magic involved. Having these six munitionettes tell the story adds a theatrical quality to the play in a play that provides a lot of fun.
The play is performed in verse. What challenges does that present?
The hardest challenge is for the actors learning all the lines as each line has a different number of beats, but it is a joy to listen to. Like all great poetry, it adds musicality to each scene, and when some of those monologues take off, you feel swept along by it.
The Finborough is an intimate performance space. How does that affect the production?
I think you learn to scale the production down. The play has to be adapted to that space. With some of our earlier work, we’ve tried to squeeze elephants into telephone boxes and sitting in the front row has been quite stressful for audience members. At its heart, Square Rounds has an intimacy and a personal touch. As an audience member, you feel involved and you feel part of it. You are taken on the journey in a magical way.
Square Rounds runs from 4 to 29 September 2018 at the Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Rd, Kensington, London SW10 9ED. Performances are Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm, with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3pm. Tickets are priced £10-20. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!