Brand New and Pembroke Players’ joint production of Thom May’s
This evocative satire is politically aware writing at its best
The UK is once again insistent on military intervention in the Middle East. This time around, one country’s nuclear weapons are the target and the effects of the ruthless spin campaign surrounding the “intervention” are felt by journalists, advertising executives and politicians alike. The key reason that this combination of capitalist agenda and military planning is so unsettling is that it doesn’t seem particularly far-fetched. The media’s long-running smear campaign of Iran is testament to the effect of ‘marketing’ certain views that leads them to becoming public opinion. As war war brand war asks, when every word we hear has been considered to provide a particular effect, churned out by human thesauruses armed with tablets, is there really such a thing as political transparency?
The pace is excellent throughout and the forty-five minutes flies by, thanks to the exceptionally strong cast of eight. The play could easily have been twice that length and still captivate its audience; it is difficult to choose standout performances as all eight are clearly very assured and talented performers. A projected collage of adverts, political rallies, war footage and clips from a ‘Virtual Cultural Awareness Trainer’ reflects and contrasts with the action on stage to great effect.
The ending doesn’t feel particularly final; though the issues surrounding the UK’s foreign policy in the Middle East can hardly be resolved by a 45 minute piece of theatre, it might need some sort of marker to signpost that it’s concluding. It’s unclear whether this stems from the script or this particular production but, in any case, it was telling that the directors had to begin the applause quite so enthusiastically in order for everyone to realise that the show had finished. Given the content’s focus on presentation of message this small aspect may be worth improving upon in future productions.
Overall then, this evocative satire is politically aware writing at its best: sharp, darkly funny and unsanctimonious. war war brand war is a clever play produced and acted well, resulting in an end product both entertaining and poignant that will leave you thinking all the way home.