A review by Bernie Whelan for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

 

 

Silvermask Productions & The New End Theatre presents

 

The Wall

 

By Douglas Watkinson

 

Directed by Olivia Rowe

 

New End Theatre
26 April - 6 June 2011

 

 

 

 

This play not only uncritically reproduces a Western caricature of evil Israeli war criminals and pathetic Palestinian victims, but with breathtaking hypocrisy it actually presents a very British vet (of domestic animals) and the ghost of his young squaddie father as the right men to bring down The Wall of the title. This ignores the fact that it was first Britain, then America and Western interests in general that mapped politics in the Middle East and these same interests have driven the 'peace process' of the last 20 years, shaping the relationship between Israel and Palestinians into what it is today.


David is a bumbling middle-aged Brit in ex-colonial whites complete with boater, affectionately portrayed by the well-seasoned actor Eric Carte. He arrives onto the colourful sun-dappled set (by Katie Blumenblatt) searching the military graves for his father, bombed with his mates on the 10:42 train home by the notorious Israeli Stern gang. Out steps Ralph (Duncan-Clyde Watkinson), every inch the clean cut cheeky chappie who, on behalf of the '10:42 committee', charges his son with the job of getting rid of the Wall because it makes the Palestinian cemetery caretaker Mahmoud late for work. If this doesn't scream 'white man's burden' to contemporary theatre goers, it's because they have become so used to calling for Western military intervention in the Middle East that, although it only ever makes things worse, the figure of a khaki clad British soldier appears timeless and heroic to them.


The play itself consists of a dreary drawn out dialogue between middle-aged son David and youthful soldier Ralph over two acts. Writer Douglas Watkinson has admitted this imagined exchange is based on his own experience of visiting Ramleh cemetery in Israel and the details are largely autobiographical. There is nothing wrong with using personal experience to inspire a play, but when it is used to make political points it is advisable to consider the position taken a little more critically than this.

 


New End Theatre
27 New End, Hampstead, London NW3 1JD
Tues - Sat: 8:30pm, Sat & Sun: 4:45pm
Tickets: £16, £14 Concs: Discounts and special rates apply for groups of 10 or more
Box Office: 0870 033 2733

http://www.offwestendtheatres.co.uk/index.php?where=new_end&showid=565
 


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