Theatre Review: Pink Mist @ Bristol Old Vic
by Polly Hember
“Who wants to play war?”
Pink Mist returns to Bristol Old Vic before embarking on a national tour, telling the painful stories of three young Bristol boys Arthur, Taff and Hads who excitedly sign up to the armed forces and all of the promise and propaganda of war – but return home from Afghanistan irrevocably changed, scarred - with one not returning home at all.
Inspired by 30 interviews with returned servicemen, Owen Sheer’s dramatic poem is performed by a brilliant young ensemble. Dan Krikler’s portrayal of Arthur, the protagonist and narrator who pushes the painful tale forwards, is mesmerising. Originally intended for radio broadcast, the lyrical pace is immersive and rhythmic – overflowing with familiar and comforting Bristol dialect which is at odds with the alien and unfamiliar desert territory of Afghanistan Arthur describes. The writing is brave, clever and heartbreaking; together with John Retallack and Geroge Mann’s production with the movement and dance of the ensemble that forms a physical language and range of vocabulary that binds itself to and strengthens the dramatic prose.
Pink Mist takes its name from military vocabulary; a term for the spraying of blood that clouds the air after a sniper gun shot or bomb attack.
It is a brutal interrogation of the damaging effects of war on the psyches and bodies of young soldiers. Sheer’s lyrical play unravels the trauma back to the young, boyish idealisation of warfare in the playground, and then exposes the dangerous and addictive cycle of love, inconsolable grief and bloodthirsty revenge that beats at the cold heart of war. Following the stories of the three individuals, spanning friendly blue-on-blue fire, traumatic amputation that sees a young 6’2’’ man now 4’3’’, the awful mental scars that constantly reopen themselves to bleed bloody nightmarish memories, and, finally, death. The three men on stage are matched by three women who convey the damaging reverberations of war on mothers, wives and girlfriends.
Thought provoking, painful and uncomfortable – this is a unique piece of modern theatre that significantly contributes to the ongoing conversation about war and our contemporary world in a turbulent and tense time.
When 23-28 Jan
Where Bristol Old VicTheatre
Time 7.30pm, 2.30pm (Sat mats)
Price £27.50-£12.50 (plus booking fee)
Ages 12+ (Contains strong language and adult themes)
Running time 2hrs (inc. 20 min interval)
Post show Q&A with Owen Sheers
Fri 27 Jan
Join Pink Mist author Owen Sheers following the 7:30pm performance.
31 Jan - 1 Apr 2017
Presented by Nick Williams Productions
Writer Owen Sheers
Directors John Retallack and George Mann*
Designer Emma Cains
Lighting Designer Peter Harrison
Composer & Sound Designer Jon Nicholls
Cast Includes Peter Edwards, Rebecca Hamilton, Rebecca Killick, Dan Krikler, Zara Ramm and Alex Stedman
Production Photography Mark Douet