Drones, Baby, Drones at Arcola Theatre
Drones, Baby, Drones is a damning insight into the minds of individuals faced with the task of operating war machines, from those at the very top, right down to the pilots.
The evening features two plays, the first, This Tuesday by playwright Ron Hutchinson and writer Christina Lamb, is set one hour prior to a “Weekly Targeting Meeting” at The White House. The audience is met by six individuals, all with various issues, on their way to the meeting. The company do well to maintain the energy, especially at times when the text seems to skate upon the surface, whilst refusing to ever really delve into the nitty gritty guts of the sordid subject matter. Despite this, director Nicolas Kent keeps the play moving, and the characters are interesting enough. Sam Dale is particularly gripping as General Ben Crow, filling the small space with a booming authoritarian voice, whilst gifting an emotional vulnerability to the character that allows theatregoers to cautiously peak into the mind of someone who is responsible for murder on an industrial scale.
The Kid, written by playwright David Greig and directed by Mehmet Ergen, is a witty, microcosmic criticism of middle class America and its perception of Drones. Studying the boys and their toys attitude taken to modern warfare, actors Anne Adams, Joseph Balderrama, Tom McKay and Rose Reynolds sit around a coffee table discussing Adams’s and McKay’s characters’ lives as drone pilots. The piece is an engulfing analysis of patriotism in the USA, touching upon a nostalgia for war that seems to be used to justify it, and is effortlessly executed by the company. A stand out performance comes from Rose Reynolds, as she proudly boasts of the views that so many share and yet so many fear, on the ways and means in which a side can win a war. Her innocent appeal, coupled with the staunch, fascist verbal vomit, make for an exciting, albeit terrifying, experience.
Both pieces share a common theme, however, they are two very separate plays. This Tuesday struggles to match the impact of The Kid, showing itself to be a practical exposition of characters, rather than something that looks at the bigger picture. Despite this, the double bill as a whole is a show for these times, and something that is totally thought provoking.
Drones, Baby, Drones is at the Arcola Theatre from 2nd until 26th November, for further information or to book visit here.