Friday, 12 February 2016

REVIEW - Battlefield, Young Vic

LEGENDARY theatre director Peter Brook is back in London from his base in Paris, with a show based on The Mahabharata.
Battlefield, now on at the Young Vic is a 65-minute snapshot of the Indian epic which he staged in a marathon nine hour showing in 1985.
It takes the audience to the aftermath of the great Kurukshetra war between the two warring families – the Pandavas and the Kauravas.
According to legend, the war lasted 18 days and left millions of bodies lying on the ground. Battlefield play begins with the victor of this war, Yudishtira (Jared McNeill) as the new Pandava King surveying the scene and wanting to make sense of it all.
It is undoubtedly a bleak picture – one that is conveyed with a vivid description to the audience – and he is reluctant to take on the role of king.
However he is persuaded to seek advice and wisdom and so he turns to the old blind king Dritarashtra (Sean O’Callaghan), queen Kunti (Carole Karemera) and soothsayers (all played by Ery Nzaramba).
The storytelling of the soothsayers is full of humour and features some lovely parables with animals including a snake who has bitten a child, a worm trying to cross a road despite fearing a chariot will come and crush him and a greedy mongoose.
The tale is simply told, with minimal props, four bare footed actors and Toshi Tsuchitori on the drum on a bare stage.
It starts off slowly but builds momentum and through the language and stories succeeds in taking the audience to another time and place while reminding us of conflicts still raging today, most notably in Syria.
Well staged and well acted, this is a short but magical piece.

Battlefield is on at the Young Vic, The Cut, Waterloo until February 27. Tickets from £10. Visit or call the box office on 020 7922 2922.

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