War, what is it really good for? World leaders have to be living on the far side of crazy to dress up its citizens in combat gear for barbaric behaviour on the front line.
Playwright Michael Hollingsworth is worthy of a 21-gun salute for courageously stepping forward to shine light on the futility of the ‘war to end all wars’ 80 years after the European conflict failed to meet its primary objective. For this reason The Great War takes a whimsically comical shot at the decision makers, the responders, and everyone else caught in the crossfire.
This isn’t history’s sanitized version of the 1914-1918 armed contention at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. VideoCabaret’s refuses to filter the facts involving the family affair behind the uprising, the rifle jamming weaponry Canadian troops were sent into harm’s way to defend themselves with, or the trench foot suffered by those holding their position in the name of honour and integrity.
The evolution of the company’s work is remarkable with this savagely entertaining story. Not only does an array of projected imagery transcend the venue, both an intrepid sound design and split second lighting cues giving the show technical supremacy in the indie theatre space.
To suggest the cast is bullet proof would be an understatement. The quick change artistry is a remarkable feat but their ability to load 2 hours of theatrical ammunition into a ‘silly, pretend country’s’ involvement in a 4-year war is beyond heroic for the white faced, eyebrow painted, costumes crazed ensemble. They’re every bit intriguing as they are amusing.
If only history could be as transparent as The Great War, we’d all learn an invaluable lesson about the continuous error of mankind’s ways. Until then, we’ll leave that to Michael Hollingsworth and company to spread the satirical truth.
Review by Jonathan O’Neil
THE GREAT WAR by Michael Hollingsworth April 1 – May 14, 2016 YOUNG CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, 55 Tank House Lane, Toronto TICKETS $25.00 – $56.00 www.soulpepper.ca 416-866-8666 CAST Aviva Armour-Ostroff, Mac Fyfe, Richard Alan Campbell, Jamie Cavanagh, Linda Prystawska, David Jansen, Jacob James DIRECTOR Michael Hollingsworth LIGHTING Andrew Dollar COSTUMES Astrid Janson & Melanie McNeill SOUND DESIGN Jake Blackwood VIDEO DESIGN Adam Barrett COMPOSER Brent Snyder STAGE MANAGER Andrew Dollar