‘More depressing than cathartic’: THE WAR HAS NOT YET STARTED – Southwark Playhouse

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Laura KresslyLeave a Comment

Southwark Playhouse, London – until 10 February 2018

We may not be living in a war zone, but everyday life is a series of battles to be won or lost. These tiny fights may be life or death in the moment, but can feel silly, meaningless or absurd from an outsider’s perspective. This isn’t lost on Mikhail Durnenkov, who presents a sample of vignettes addressing problematic aspects of modern life, from mobile phone overuse to airport security.

The trouble is that these 15 or so brief, unrelated scenes are so short that they are overly-simplistic, and didactic to the point they become preachy. There’s no time for subtlety or questioning the nuances in the issues raised, so the whole show comes across as little more than a list of things the writer thinks are bad.

Durnenkov heightens the absurdity enough to make some relieving moments of genuine comedy, but these do little to add any depth to his critique. Gordon Anderson uses the space well, though Bob Bailey’s anachronistic set resembling a grandmother’s shabby sitting room is a puzzling disservice to the hyper-contemporary world of the text. The barbed wire wallpaper is the only effective capture of the anti-realism running through the script.

Though good performances by an all-white, multi-rolling trio (Hannah Britland, Mark Quartly and Sarah Hadland) help assuage the annoyance that comes from being lectured, the lack of substantial commentary is frustrating. Sure, life has its problems – but we know what they are, and an episodic run down of them is more depressing than cathartic.

 

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Laura Kressly
Laura is a US immigrant who has lived in the UK since 2004. Originally trained as an actor with a specialism in Shakespeare, she enjoyed many pre-recession years working as a performer, director and fringe theatre producer. When the going got too tough, she took a break to work in education as a support worker, then a secondary school drama teacher. To keep up with the theatrical world, she started reviewing for Everything Theatre and Remotegoat in 2013. In 2015, Laura started teaching part time in order to get back into theatre. She is now a freelance fringe theatre producer and runs her independent blog, theplaysthethinguk.com.
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Laura Kressly on RssLaura Kressly on Twitter
Laura Kressly
Laura is a US immigrant who has lived in the UK since 2004. Originally trained as an actor with a specialism in Shakespeare, she enjoyed many pre-recession years working as a performer, director and fringe theatre producer. When the going got too tough, she took a break to work in education as a support worker, then a secondary school drama teacher. To keep up with the theatrical world, she started reviewing for Everything Theatre and Remotegoat in 2013. In 2015, Laura started teaching part time in order to get back into theatre. She is now a freelance fringe theatre producer and runs her independent blog, theplaysthethinguk.com.

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