STAGE REVIEW: Unexploded Ordnances @ Northern Stage, Newcastle (24.09.19) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Unexploded Ordnances, or UXO’s for short, are ‘bombs that did not explode when dropped, but still pose a risk of detonating’. In Split Britches’ Dr Strangelove-inspired show, UXO’s are ageing, anxiety, hidden desires and the impact of all of them on our individual futures.

Set out like the film’s situation room with tables and chairs in a circle. Three screens form the backdrop, playing nostalgic footage, wartime information videos and animations.

Peggy Shaw plays the role of a bombastic General, Lois Weaver the President. They set a timer at the outset, telling the audience to set their phone alarms for the end. When a telephone rings, a front row audience member is told to answer it and handed a script, their character ‘the secretary’. A comedic nod to all the stereotypical nuances the role has to offer, played excellently by the put upon Jane.

While Lois’s President flops and stumbles about, bored and distracted, she carries out a poll of the audience members’ lifetime experiences, selecting the oldest to join her in the ‘situation’ room where she leads a discussion about fears and desires. Spectators in the conversation the audience watch footage on-screen that rushes us headlong into global catastrophe.

In the end, it’s the General and President who prevail. And like the film, the show plays out with Vera Lynne’s anthem of fond farewells We’ll Meet Again.

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