Pink Mist**** (Bush Theatre)

Posted: February 3, 2016 in Theatre


A feeling of helplessness comes from reading or hearing a modern war poem. It is a feeling that nothing at all has changed in the century since Wilfred Owen. Substitute the arid terrain of Asia for the trenches of Northern Europe and we still have young working class men (women too, but not included here) being lured away from drab lives by the bait of adventure and then maimed or slaughtered at the behest of politicians and generals. Told through narration and movement, this transfer from the Bristol Old Vic follows three soldiers (Phil Dunster, Peter Edwards and Alex Stedman) from enlistment through the era of the Blair wars and on to seemingly inevitable conclusions. Their women (Rebecca Hamilton, Rebecca Killick and Zara Ramm) suffer at home. Writer Owen Sheers’ work has an epic sweep, as if attempting to condense a decade of horrific news stories into under two hours, and there are times when this production buckles under the strain. The volume of material and the structure of the piece work against full development of storylines or characters, but, collectively, these snapshots of doomed lives are projected with overwhelming visceral force. The performances are magnificent and the production on a square open platform, directed with flair and imagination by John Retallack and George Mann, provides the flowing movement to strengthen the power of Sheers’ words. At the end, the audience feels pummelled, drained of emotion and very, very angry at the shocking waste of war.

Performance date: 29 January 2016

Photo: Mark Douet

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