The Time Of Our Lies Uncovers A Secret History At Park Theatre
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It’s every director’s nightmare: the leading actor falls ill the day before press night, unable to perform. David Benzali, who plays historian and activist Howard Zinn in this semi-biographical play, was replaced for this performance by Martina Laird, who plays an elderly Jewish man from Brooklyn astonishingly well, considering she only joined the company the day before.
The Time of Our Lies finds Zinn, a second world war bombardier, looking back on the atrocities he committed in the line of duty and examining those that have been committed in the decades since. The play addresses the changing narrative of war: how the increasing distance and detachment that modern warfare involves has made it that much easier for combatants and military leaders to commit atrocities and for the public to ignore them. Zinn questions the twisted logic we use to justify senseless slaughter and highlights its perverse banality: “It is extremely dangerous when murder can become your office job”.
Ché Walker’s production tries to create a multi-sensory experience, and it just about works. Aside from the interpretive movement and abrasive flashing lights, Sheila Atim’s music jangles the senses. The soldiers and the victims are mostly played by women, which undercuts the masculine energy of war driven by capitalism and the ludicrousness of militaristic patriotism. The play is scattered with fragments of the past and present: Sojourner Truth and Fannie Lou Hamer appear and deliver their famous speeches, whilst Alvaro Flores delivers a Trump impression that is more sinister than humorous.
Zinn was a historian who defied the adage ‘history is written by the victors’. He tried to write from the perspective of history’s losers, giving a voice to the voiceless and calling attention to the trends that are repeating themselves right now around us. Playwright Bianca Bagatourian aims to do much the same thing. Though overly sincere and somewhat pious in places, it doesn’t fall far short of the mark.
The Time of Our Lies, Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, N4 3JP. Tickets £15-£32.50, until 10 August 2019.
Last Updated 02 August 2019