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Mr Monkey sees Britannia Waves The Rules at the Royal Exchange Theatre

Venue : Royal Exchange Theatre
Start date: 27th May 2014
End date : 7th June 2014
Visit date : 28th May, 2014
Carl (Dan Parr) preparing to leave Blackpool (Royal Exchange Theatre production photo)
Carl (Dan Parr) regretting joining the Army (Royal Exchange Theatre production photo)
Mr Monkey looking at the Britannia Waves The Rules poster
Mr Monkey trotted along to the Royal Exchange Theatre for the press night of Britannia Waves The Rules.

Before taking his seat, he scampered up to the Mezzanine Gallery to get a good view of Thomas O'Grady's piece Slaughterhouse Five: The Installation. So It Goes. This installation features elements of the 1972 film of Vonnegut's book and footage from WW2 newsreels, run forwards and backwards and projected on pillars above the entrance to the Studio. The same images, with a sound track which is also largely running backwards, appear on small monitors along the Mezzanine, as do displays of extracts from the book.

Gareth Farr won the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting in 2011 with Britannia Waves The Rules. This production is the play's world premiere, running in conjunction with the premiere of The Last Days of Troy.

The protagonist of the play, Carl Jackson, was born and bred in Blackpool. He hates Blackpool, and the only escape he can think of is to join the Army to learn a trade and see the world outside Blackpool. Britannia Waves The Rules follows Carl through his training, his deployment to Helmand Province, and his eventual return to Blackpool.

Britannia Waves The Rules is very close to being a monologue - Dan Parr (Carl Jackson) is on stage throughout for the full 80 minutes (and there's no interval, either). He produces a spellbinding bravura performance, bursting with energy across the empty stage, and is utterly convincing throughout.

He has excellent support from a number of actors who are also in The Last Days of Troy and appear here as Carl's relatives (including his dead mother), acquaintances and comrades.

Mr Monkey thought that the play became a little disjointed shortly before the end, but this may reflect the shattering effects of Carl's experiences in combat. This is described as a 'state of the nation' play where current recruits do not have a clear idea of why they are fighting in Afghanistan. However, Mr Monkey is not convinced that this is such an exceptional situation.

Mr Monkey enjoyed the play which was thought-provoking, emotional and at times uncomfortable but overall a fast-paced, energetic and memorable performance.

Britannia Waves The Rules runs until 7th June 2014.

Slaughterhouse Five: The Installation. So It Goes. shows between 6pm and 7.15pm each night the play is on.

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