EDINBURGH | GLASGOW | ABERDEEN | INVERNESS | DUNDEE | PERTH

Sanctuary

* * - - -

Worthy theatre but with a weak and simplistic ending.

Image of Sanctuary

Sanctuary

@ theSpace on Niddry St, Edinburgh, until Sun 29 Aug 2015 (times vary)

This anti-war play from writer/performer Susanne Sulby starts well, as she switches character between a TV war correspondent, a Bosnian woman POW and an American Soccer Mom who finds herself drawn to try to understand the lack of humanity she sees on her TV screen every night. In between, she mixes poetry and recollections from previous conflicts.

The Soccer Mom is the key role here. Her bewilderment at what appears to be the same war with the same consequences playing out in different lands, is wholly believable, as is her sense of impotence whilst trying to do what she can to help.

However, the play falls down in making its conclusions. When it outlines the horrors of war and lack of logic in attempting to solve disputes with violence, it is at it strongest; almost everyone has watched TV reports and asked, ‘why?’ Yet the simplistic solutions to conflict that Sulby gives to her war correspondent—precisely the one character who might understand how complex finding peace might be—are straight out of the 1960s Haight-Ashbury pop-up book of clichés: we need to love each other more, understand, forgive and empathise. All true, but if that’s all it took, then we’d probably be war free by now.

The desire for a conclusion, to wrap a show up with a passionate statement, is understandable. However, had the show left the audience without any answers and left them to dwell on the illogicality of conflict, it would have been a stronger piece and a more honest ending.