This Is War
Hannah Moscovitch investigates the moral implications of combat in This Is War
Written by Hannah Moscovitch
Directed by Richard Rose
Commissioned by the Banff Centre Theatre Arts Department to celebrate their 75th birthday, Hannah Moscovitch's This Is War, a new play about Canada's involvement in the war in Afghanistan, premiered at the Tarragon Theatre on Thursday night under an intimate canopy of camouflage netting creatively arranged by set and costume designer Camellia Koo.
Inspired by the playwright's experience talking to Canadian troops for the CBC radio drama "Afghanada," This Is War takes place in 2008 in the Taliban-controlled region of Panjwaii. The story is told from the perspectives of four soldiers in an interview with an unseen journalist.
Interrogated over the results of a disastrous joint operation with the Afghan National Army, Captain Stephen Hughes (Ari Cohen), Master Corporal Tanya Young (Lisa Berry), Private Jonny Henderson (Ian Lake) and (Medic) Sergeant Chris Anders (Sergio Di Zio) describe the complex circumstances leading up to a tragic incident. Emotions run high at the base the night before the "op," with guilt, frustration, jealousy, confusion and mental trauma playing a role in the outcome of the next day's events.
Featuring lighting by Rebecca Picherack and composition and sound by Thomas Ryder Payne, the bold production design lends a sense of urgency to Moscovitch's intense script, while the committed cast, clad in fatigues and carrying large weapons, pull off a convincing depiction of military culture in a fascinating exploration of the combatant's battle-scarred psyche.
Although the play comes to a rather uncertain, abrupt end, it manages to provoke our sympathies for those who have chosen to give their lives to service, in an environment that often requires an unflinching ability to make critical decisions and then to live with them. Another compelling offering from one of Canada's brightest playwrights.
This Is War runs until February 3 at the Tarragon Theatre. Visit tarragontheatre.com for more information and to buy tickets.