short play – Passion – written forty years ago for the CND is a
pretty unsubtle piece of agit-prop. Green Shield stamps show its age,
but otherwise it remains sharp and pertinent as soldiers continue to
die in wars they barely understand.
It's a mythic
tale of a mother who cannot accept the death of her innocent soldier
son. I felt the piece lost its way slightly with the appearance of
the Buddha and the Christ [both despair of bringing peace to mankind]
and with the sacrificed soldier's poem from the grave, tellingly
delivered though it was by Liam Cadzow Webb.
An all-male cast,
directed, at least initially, by Rob Salmon, gave a performance of
impressive maturity and style, bringing a very physical, aggressive
approach to the piece, with cynical shots of cabaret. The
ventriloquist grieving mother – an excellent Sam Hume, naively
trusting in her monarch – and the badinage between Queen [Jack
Brett, in a brilliantly sustained performance of physical and vocal
dexterity] and PM [a beaming, Blairish Calum Bateman] was skilfully
handled, especially the delete-as-appropriate synonyms in HMQ's
The Passion of
the title – a crucified pig [made by Sam Hadcraft] retains its
power to shock, just as the play retains its power to provoke.
The idea of Demo,
the companion piece, was to provide a contemporary response to that
provocation. What we got was an honest, searching exploration of
freedom, and what it meant to the thirteen young actors who stood
before us, dressed in jeans and jumpers, and bared their souls.
Astheyexplainedinabriefpost-showtalk-out,theywerestrivingforhonestyandintegrity,andmanyideaswererejected[thebeardressedasStalinIwouldliketohavesurvived,though].The result was unexpectedly moving, a poignant reminder of
what it's like to be caught in the turbulent uncertainties of youth.
"Passion" of course might have provoked many responses –
what has replaced the very real fear of nuclear war, for instance, or
the changing role of religion.