WEEK ONE: BLACK WATCH, DRILL HALL, TRAVERSE
Gregory Burke wrote the critically acclaimed Gargarin Way
Black Watch has received universal critical acclaim in the opening week of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Written by playwright Gregory Burke, it follows a group of soldiers belonging to the Black Watch regiment on its last tour in Iraq.
It might seem premature to announce that the most compelling theatre experience of the entire Fringe has already been unveiled, but if there is a more powerful, urgent, pefectly realised piece of work than Gregory Burke's Black Watch out there, I'll undertake to run to Baghdad and back.
Black Watch avoids the pitfalls of most documentary theatre, which allows us liberal theatre-goers to take a cosy gander in the zoo. Instead, it places the audience in the very heart of the war zone. John Tiffany's storming, heart-stopping production is all disorientating blood, guts and thunder, threaded through with history and songs of the regiment and intercut with lyrical moments of physical movement, like some great dirty ballet of pulsating machismo and terrible tenderness.
ONES TO WATCH
Jim Henson's Puppet Improv
Girl Blog From Iraq: Baghdad Burning
Reginald D Hunter: Pride and Prejudice and Niggas
For once, superlatives are no exaggeration. This is a stunning show. John Tiffany's direction in the warehouse-style space of a drill hall makes it feel at times like a deadly version of a military tattoo.
Not everyone will agree; not everyone will sympathise. But few will come away untouched by this thrilling, raw, challenging and masterful piece of work. It takes a lot to get an Edinburgh audience to its feet but they were standing to applaud this.
Black Watch is an astonishing artistic whirlwind that, despite its localised setting, is utterly international in its approach. The world must see this play. Immediately.
The foundation stone of Gregory Burke as a playwright is his grasp of different kinds of male relationship: camaraderie, community and rivalry are all present between his characters, but they are always talking the same language and wired for the same feelings. His new piece Black Watch fits this hypothesis perfectly.