Golf Course War Machine is proof that you don’t need a big set, a big cast or even a big budget to create an excellent show. It explores the life of Pippa, a girl from small-town Wales who feels trapped in her situation, and turns to political activism as a means of escape.
Melanie Stevens, the actor who takes us on this journey, is beautifully fluid and feline in her movements. She dances, she fights, she crawls across the floor while making intense eye contact with individual members of the audience. She captivates in her actions, and also in her delivery of Chris Harris’ truly stunning script. There is crying, singing – she definitely has a good pair of lungs, and she uses them effectively – and shouting. Alone on the stage she raves to Nickelback, and creates a one-person protest on London bridge.
It is difficult not to dislike Pippa and her myriad of flaws: selfishness, flightiness, an inability to say no. And yet, Stevens’ execution also makes it easy to feel sorry for her. The way she joins any cause she can find to forget her own issues is surprisingly relatable, especially amongst the younger generations. Her words border on hysterical, then drop down to a monotonous rant, listing her travels in China and bitterly comparing them to her life back home.
The main setting of the show, the 2014 NATO summit in Wales, can get lost in the other anecdotes which Pippa weaves throughout the forty-five minutes. However, the overall message – asking who we are, what we stand for, and whether we are happy with those answers – remains strong, as we watch Pippa spiral on a course of reckless defiance which is strangely uplifting. She may not be the perfect role model, but her stubbornness in the face of overwhelming hopelessness is inspiring, and very fitting in this day and age. No Boundaries Theatre have created an incredibly moving piece which can be interpreted from many different angles, whether that be from a political perspective or simply the disjointed voice of a woman trying to find her place in an increasingly hostile world.