Friday, November 22, 2013

Landscape with Weapon - Review - People's Theatre

Landscape with Weapon
19th Nov 2013
The People’s Theatre

What happens when the project you have been working on is called into question? Ned (Ian Willis)is an engineer who has designed a groundbreaking piece of technology that will transform the way war is waged. Ned sees only the beauty of the design, inspired by the swarming starlings and schools of fish;  and the practical application: intelligent surveillance robots which will be able to gain access to remote and dangerous sites, without  risk to military personel, and without the flaw of losing contact with the GPS.
His family however are less impressed with the beauty of his work – especially when they discover that the military have armed the robots, turning them into deadly weapons. His wife has left him, his mother has not spoken to him for weeks. He ends up in a brawl with his brother Dan (Matthew Hope).
This play is a study in the conflict between conscience and ambition, duty and family. He resists the pressure from his family, continuing to believe in and develop the technology he has created. Until the Government try to take away his intellectual ownership. Suddenly he begins to see the how little control he will have and the potential dangers his creation poses in the hands of others.
The first half of the play is darkly humorous. The characters of the two brothers Ned and Dan contrasting sharply, they have different lives, and disagree on many things but there is obviously great affection between them. And this provides the humour as they argue and quarrel and finally fight over their individual “projects”. Dan ironically taking the moral high ground on weapons manufacture while injecting an unlicensed Botox substitute into patients at his dental practice.
In the second half the mood changes. Ned is called to account for his refusal to sign the contract. The marketing manager for the company Ross, (Alison Carr) who in the first act seemed  rather eccentric and distracted, is transformed into a formidable force – alternately bullying and praising Ned on his work as she tries to save her company from the financial disaster of a lost military contract. And she is joined by the sinister Brooks(Stuart Laidler), the Government man who wheedles and cajoles and threatens Ned until he capitulates.
Stuart Laidler plays the part fantastically! He is perfectly cast as the odiously sinister agent, smiling and sympathising one minute and issuing veiled threats the next! Both Ned and Dan are subjected to his persuasive talents. But do they capitulate?
This is a very intense play – covering some difficult issues. First time director Rhiannon Wilson has succeeded in showing the disintegration of a man’s life as he fight for and then loses his belief in the work he is doing.
Set against a fabulous Da Vinci themed backdrop, and with excellent use of sound and lighting, this thought provoking play will make you re-assess your own views on governments and warfare, and secrets!
It runs until Sat 23rd.

Denise Sparrowhawk

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