U of C production of This Is War a timely education on the realities of combat

Caroline Russell-King offers her postcard review of This Is War, currently onstage at the University Theatre.

Show: This is War.

Playwright/composer: Hannah Moscovitch.

Theatre: University Theatre.

Length: One act (one hour, 45 minutes, no intermission).

Genre(s): Drama.

Premise: Telling their version of the story, four soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, make difficult decisions and have complicated relationships against the backdrop of war. 

Why this play? Why now?: Since the U.S. recently abandoned forces to fight against extremism and tyranny it seems particularly topical.

Curiosities: I wondered why use video, since it splits focus and the lag time is distracting. I had many questions about the pacing and the staccato speech of the actors. I wondered how challenging it was to direct a script that has so many repeated scenes. My last thought was why are so many Canadian plays seemingly trying to educate us, rather than entertain us?

Notable moment: The scenes with blood, sex and violence, happening in “real time,” were undoubtedly the strongest.

Notable writing: Stemming from interviews with soldiers, this play has had many successful productions since its premiere at the Tarragon Theatre under the direction of Richard Rose.

Notable performance: The cast of students (Sofia Hurate, Sebastian Rueda Montes, Stefan Lauritsen and Ethan Ross) is fairly evenly weighted.

Notable design: Graham Frampton, who also is working on his thesis, designed the set, props, costumes, lighting and projections of which the uniforms and set were the most successful in supporting the play.

Notable direction: John Knight is the MFA candidate working under Thesis Supervisor Christine Brubaker whose approach is “… practice-based learning within a methodological context, where student-driven inquiry is privileged alongside skills acquisition. The aim is to create a dynamic and exciting exchange between working with and understanding theoretical contexts, existing forms, methods and techniques, while also welcoming the productive critique of established practices in order to develop an authentic authorial voice.” 

One reason to see this show: Theatre is vital to the U of C, and should be supported.

This Is War runs until Saturday, Oct. 26 at the University of Calgary’s University Theatre. Click here for showtimes and tickets.

Caroline Russell-King is a playwright, dramaturg, and instructor. She is a member of The Playwrights Guild of Canada, the Dramatist Guild of America and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You can find her work here