Theatre Review: Palace Of The End @ Arcola

By Londonist Last edited 93 months ago
Theatre Review: Palace Of The End @ Arcola

palaceoftheend.jpg Palace of the End, a triptych of monologues by the Canadian playwright Judith Thompson, deals with the disturbing and emotive subject of the Iraq war. It's timely coming in the wake of new Wikileak revelations of torture and abuse in the country. Told through the eyes of three very different characters, the play gives us a kaleidoscope of viewpoints and an insight into three different lives ruined by the conflict.
First up is Jade Williams playing the immature, moral vacuum of a Lynddie England clone. Heavily pregnant, she oscillates between extreme defensiveness and gloating boastfulness about her physical and sexual abuse of Iraqi soldiers. Williams gives a captivating performance, the strongest of the night, and we almost (although only almost) feel pity for this poorly educated, small-town girl whose life has been shaped by the bullying, pernicious culture of her youth.
We also follow the musings of Robin Soans, playing a bleeding, quintessentially English, David Kelly in his last few hours on earth. The play closes with Imogen Smith as the tea-drinking widow of the head of the Iraqi Communist party. She achieves a number of laughs from the audience despite the dark subject matter of horrendous suffering in the torture chambers of Saddam Hussein.
Studio 2 provides an intimate and engaging setting for this play but we are left with the feeling that certain elements have been oversimplified and lack nuance. Some references also stretch the imagination, it's difficult to believe, for instance, that a Lynddie England character could achieve cultural references about Napoleon or Joan of Arc.
By Rachel Phillips
Palace of the End runs until 20 November in Studio 2 at Arcola, 8.15pm. Tickets can be bought from the Arcola Theatre website.

Last Updated 19 November 2010