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Shoot, I Didn’t Mean That / The Last Days Of Mankind…

Shoot, I Didn't Mean That-The Last Days of Mankind
Shoot, I Didn’t Mean That-The Last Days of Mankind, Tristan Bates Theatre, Photo Courtesy Robert Piwko

This production sees two plays performed back to back; ‘Shoot, I Didn’t Mean That‘, a new play written by Catriona Kerridge, and the epilogue from Karl Kraus’ ‘The Last Days Of Mankind‘. They are performed marking the centenary of the outbreak of World War 1.

Shoot, I Didn’t Mean That is a contemporary play that tells the story of four girls who all have a connection to war. The play switches between the three stories we are being shown, keeping the audience constantly engaged.

Juliet (Alexine Lafaber) finds herself in prison in Germany with her arm stuck in the air. Lafaber proves herself to be a strong solo actor and a good storyteller. She has a wonderful quality to her voice which is pleasant to listen to for long stretches of time, and although she was confined to a small area of the stage, she used it extremely well.

Sarah (Emily Bairstow) is an interpreter who spends her days in a glass booth where she slowly goes a bit mad. Bairstow’s character has a very clear timeline, particularly with her state of mind, and although she is literally stuck behind a glass screen, her voice powers through that barrier to deliver a very strong performance.

The final story of this play tells of two schoolgirls; Emma (Jocasta King) and Jessie (Alexa Hartley). At first it is unclear where they are, but by the end of the first scene we find that they are at a Remembrance Day Service. I found that King and Hartley seemed stronger with their comedy text than their more serious and dramatic lines (the small amount of fighting and violence wasn’t greatly executed either), although they both showed themselves to be very talented actors.

This new play certainly has a great script and it is well performed in a production that is slick and stylish. I can see some of this play being a new popular choice for contemporary monologues.

The Last Days Of Mankind: The Last Night by Karl Kraus, is his response to the outbreak of World War 1, and shows how it impacts people’s lives. It is divided into over 200 scenes stretching over 5 acts, each one representing a year of the war. In this production we see the Epilogue of Kraus’s play.

The cast seemed more at ease in this play. They all showed an impressive ability to go from contemporary prose in the first play to verse in the second. I felt as though it suited a couple of them more, and Bairstow in particular was very engaging. The cast were generally able to work well together as an ensemble. There was some artificial sound used (the sound of breathing through gas masks) and some video projection used near the end which I felt was a bit unnecessary.

This second play is definitely the stronger of the two, although both plays are very well directed and performed by a cast of four very talented actors, all of which have recently graduated from drama school and are, I am sure, destined for great things.

In conclusion, two plays marking the outbreak of World War 1, performed by a strong cast who deliver with an ease and style that is enjoyable and engaging.

4 Star

Review by Elliott Wallis

Cast
Emily Bairstow, Alexa Hartley, Jocasta King, Alexine Lafaber

Creatives
Director: Pamela Schermann
Set and costume designer: Mike Lees
Composer/sound designer: Ben Osborn
Lighting designer: Petr Vocka
Projections: Matthew Brown

Shoot, I didn’t mean that by Catriona Kerridge
I should have been drunk. That would have made sense. A drunk Brit abroad. But no, I wasn’t. I was sober…
With a ‘Sieg Heil’ here and a bang bang there, life is like a bunch of poppy fields. This dark comedy follows four women’s strange and surreal downfall as they become intoxicated by the great wars and politics; this isn’t just a game of battleships. Juliet waltzes into a difficult situation at Vienna’s famous flea market; two schoolgirls struggle not to giggle during Remembrance Day; an interpreter breaks her voice. Brits abroad, conflict tourism and a lot of disaster. A play about a shared fear for the future, inspired by Karl Kraus’s Last Days of Mankind.

The Last Days of Mankind: The Last Night by Karl Kraus
English translation by Fred Bridgham and Edward Timms
Karl Kraus’s epic response to the outbreak of WW1, its impact on the lives of the people, and the role of the media, The Last Days of Mankind is made up of over 200 scenes across five Acts, one for each year of the war, following fictional characters, archetypes and historical figures. While the main play was naturalistic, using material from newspapers and actual conversations, the epilogue takes on an expressionist, apocalyptic vision of a world destroyed by war.

Background
Marking the centenary of the outbreak of WW1, Time Zone Theatre and Austrian director Pamela Schermann invited British playwrights to respond to Karl Kraus’s epic The Last Days of Mankind. The resulting double-bill aims to encourage an intercultural dialogue about past and current global conflicts by combining a play by one of the most influential Austrian playwrights of the 20th century with the work of emerging British talents. Out of 100+ expressions of interest, the panel selected Catriona Kerridge’s Shoot, I didn’t mean that, which will run alongside a staging of the epilogue of Kraus’ epic.

Dates & Venue
23rd September – 18th October 2014, Tues-Sat 7.30pm, Sun 3pm
Tristan Bates Theatre, 1a Tower Street, London WC2H 9NP
http://tristanbatestheatre.co.uk/

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