War Correspondents by Helen Chadwick Song Theatre
Malvern Theatres May 20th
War Correspondents is powerful, full of complexity and performed in a distinctive style.
The production uses interviews with journalists and occasional lines of poetry as its text. We either hear the text through song, performed live by the cast of five without accompaniment, or through recorded dialogue played as a sound effect. The recordings are occasionally difficult to understand, but the performances are clear and candid.
Steven Hoggett (co-creator of Frantic Assembly) is the co-director of this performance and his graceful approach to choreography is unmistakable. Physical theatre moments work best when they reflect truths that cannot be expressed in words. For example, three men in a bar tilt the table they’re at to provide a different angle and perspective; the company are at a press conference performing an elaborate, increasingly manic dance with their water glasses. Compelling, technically excellent moments of theatrical expression.
The decision to use song rather than spoken dialogue works successfully too. Passions are intensified as the stories gradually become more human and more universal. The performance begins as an objective account of how journalists behave and survive in a war situation, but ends up as a global call for understanding. Complex questions are considered – should the journalists interfere in what’s happening, in order to alleviate suffering? What can any of us do to stop these atrocities happening? One song is entitled “Everything Stays Broken”, a bleak lament for loss of peace and understanding, but we are left on a more positive note as the last song hopes that “by telling the truth, things can improve.”
Malvern Theatres generously offered free tickets to Perfect Circle Youth Theatre members and I was interested to hear their thoughts on the production. “Absolutely brilliant, well-crafted piece of theatre”, “hauntingly beautiful”, “a sense of rhythm and timing being incorporated into all aspects of the performance including moving props, lighting and changing costume”.
Reviewed by Lee Farley – Perfect Circle Youth Theatre