Bury the Dead
Lottie Ward’s memorable production does full justice to Irwin Shaw’s timelessly relevant anti-war play.
The techniques of warfare may have changed since 1936 when it was written but the compromising of truth– “the first casualty” of any war – the manipulation of public opinion, the dishonest handling of bad news and the sacrifice of young lives rear their heads just like the six soldiers who refuse to be conveniently buried, a symbol of the indomitable human spirit.
In the first half they are anonymous cannon fodder, standing in their grave with their backs to the audience while the embarrassed generals, glib religious representatives and philosophical captain decide how this insubordination should be managed.
In desperation they call on the women in the privates’ lives to persuade them to cooperate, and it is then that they face us with all the horror of their injuries and they become the real people they are behind the casualty statistics, beneath the uniforms.
On a strikingly realistic and dramatically lit set the individual characterisations in a huge cast of 24 were all, without exception, vivid, unsentimental and sympathetic.
Of the “authorities”, Stuart Davison as General One (significantly unnamed, unlike the privates) and Luke Garbutt as cerebral, and significantly named, Captain Butler particularly impressed.
On until Saturday.