Author Archive for: ‘KedarAdour’

BLACK WATCH BY Scotland’s National Theatre is a brilliant, gut-wrenching event.

Cast of National Theatre of Scotland’s “Black Watch” – playing at the Armory Community Center in San Francisco’s Mission District. Phot by Scott Suchman

BLACK WATCH: Dramatic Event by Gregory Burke. Directed by John Tiffany. A.C.T. presents the National Theatre of Scotland’s production at The Armory Community Center, 333 14th Street, between Mission and Valencia, San Francisco.  415-749-2228 or  May 9 – June 16, 2013.

BLACK WATCH BY Scotland’s National Theatre is a brilliant, gut-wrenching event.

If f***  and the street word for a woman’s sexual organ offend you avoid going to see Black Watch but if you wish to see a powerful, dynamic theatrical event get your ticket now because this potentially sell-out performance at the Armory Community Center in the Mission District will keep you riveted and tighten your sphincters for its intermission-less 110 minutes. It is masculine dominated world of war at its worse and comradeship at its best brought to life with “multimedia effects, music, movement and staging  that puts the audience on either side of the ground level stage with ‘stadium style seating’.”

The production is designed to play in a drill hall, not a proscenium arch stage and made its debut at the 2006 Edinburgh Fringe Festival in just such a hall.  Since that extremely successful opening the production has moved throughout Scotland winning awards wherever it played. It created the same critical acclaim playing in Australia, Dublin, New York and Washington and other venues.

The play is non-linear beginning in a pool hall in Fife in 2006 where Lance Corporal “Cammy” Campbell and his Black Watch Unit agree to be interviewed by a newspaper writer. Expecting a woman, they rebel when a male writer appears and only agree to talk when free drinks are offered.  As their stories unfold in flashbacks to 2004 Iraq where their regiment is assigned to assist the Americans near Fallujah and Karbala named the “Triangle of Death.” Here the Black Watch comes under attack from mortars, rockets, IED (improvised explosive devices) and suicide bombers. The impersonality of death is amplified where the injured are not discussed by name but by number indicating increased severity. . . P1, P2, P3 and the dead as P4.  There is a spectacular scene where three men and an interpreter are blown up by a suicide bomber and all end up dead. . . P4.

The staging is explosively physical with more than a scattering of humor and a plethora of pathos. During one scene the ensemble depicts the history of the Black Watch from its early origins with one man being dressed in the 17th century uniform marching through a phalanx of his comrades, who strip him of one uniform and dress him in the next decades uniform until they reach the present day uniforms.

It is a superb ensemble production with stunning physical choreography and no waste motion expressing meaning without words. A regimental fight scene is so intricate and realistic that you will be rearing back in your seat wondering how many will be injured during the melee. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a choreographed scene involving receiving mail is so beautiful it will tug on your heart.

The futility of the war in Iraq and later Afghanistan is driven home in this production when the question arises as to why they are there. Yes there is the “Golden Thread” of historical context as generation, after generation of Black Watch men follow in there ancestors footsteps but as Lord Elgin, leader of the group and descendent of Robert the Bruce, says “It is curse.” Why then do they fight? “The fight for their regiment. Their company. Their platoon. And for their mates.” That is a great definition of camaraderie.

This is a terrific theatric event. Do not miss it.

Creative Team: Steven Hoggett (movement director), Davey Anderson (musical director), Joe Douglas (staff director), Laura Hopkins (scenic designer), Jessica Brettle (costume designer ), Colin Grenfell (lighting designer), Gareth Fry (sound designer), and Leo Warner and Mark Grimmer for Fifty Nine Productions Ltd. (video designers)

Featuring: Cameron Barnes, Benjamin Davies, Scott Fletcher, Andrew Fraser, Robert Jack, Stuart Martin, Stephen McCole, Adam McNamara, Richard Rankin, and Gavin Jon Wright.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

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