Unexploded Ordnances Goes Down A Bomb At The Barbican

Unexploded Ordnances ★★★☆☆

By Johnny Fox Last edited 13 months ago

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Unexploded Ordnances Goes Down A Bomb At The Barbican Unexploded Ordnances 3

Set your watches — actually put a timer on your phone — and it's 59 minutes to Doomsday in a new-to-us genre called 'Forum Theatre'. That means, two veteran actors recruit the twelve oldest audience members to be a council of war for the incoming nuclear disaster.

Lying about your age may work — participation looked like fun, but our dozen were sharp-witted sixty and seventy-somethings who collaborated in a fascinating exercise fronting up to what worried them as they approach later life. Mostly, health, Alzheimer's and money — but also Palestine, late love, and who would be the new Arsenal manager.

Among and around them gender-fluid performance partners Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver as 'General' and 'President' string a narrative modelled on the Kubrik movie Dr Strangelove that monitors the danger of live bombing but also the symbolic energy in forgotten or buried munitions. The metaphor — delivered with the subtlety of bombing it has to be said — is that our unfulfilled desires and abandoned dreams are also potentially explosive.

Shaw and Weaver retain a residual store of their undoubted magnificence as feminist creatives and actors — but they're reading the script and some power is lost when not improvising with the 'elders'.

We wondered how different the narrative would be if they'd picked the twelve youngest members of the audience, and how easily they might have articulated their hopes and dreams.

Collaborative, curious and leaves you with a glow that isn't necessarily fallout.

Split Britches: Unexploded Ordnances, Barbican Centre, EC2, £18. Until 19 May

Last Updated 17 May 2018