The New Barbed Wire, hmmm…Well That’s Debatable.
I suppose there was always going to be a foreboding feeling of nostalgia when seeing Stalingrad for us second years, as we had gone through the very same thing a year prior to this show and because of that I guess there was always going to be more of a judging tone when reviewing it. To us Barbed Wire was king and for anyone to threaten that title was seen as some sort of a blasphemes cretin. Negative thoughts aside I must say I did enjoy this show.
Dare I say it… but as I walked into the auditorium, my mind’s eye was overwhelmed with a smorgasbord of visual treats, most notably the slap in the face set which makes you think I could just watch this and get my money’s worth. Scattered throughout the set that God would envy, were dark little red herrings that prophesised the end of the show which were quite enriching when I figured it out, plus they set the tone for what was to be a murky ominous show.
In terms of the show, it was somewhat squiffy in its narrative. The show seemed to be all over the place at times and some characters story arcs ended without so much as a reasonable explanation. Now I’m not one for being spoon fed the answers but a step in the right direction is appreciated, unfortunately that wasn’t given in some cases. The most notable case of this was with the “officer” characters played by Erol Uzunhasan, Blake Palmer and Joseph Spinks. Very similar characters with very similar voice patterns so it would be hard to tell them apart if I had my eyes closed, but there story just seemed to end abruptly like an episode of The Soprano’s.
Dodgy narrative aside, It must be said that the writing of the show is superb and some scenes and its dialogue some actors would give their front teeth to perform. Some of the actors in the show where very lucky to get some of the dialogue they were given, but I can’t help but feel that some of the actors didn’t really give the dialogue justice in their performances. I’m not sure if some of the actors went all the way with their characters and gave all they could have given and in some cases some of the actors were swallowed by their colossus of a set.
I’m afraid the biggest negative I can give for the show is that it’s narrative was dodgy and I didn’t know what was happening half the time (although maybe it’s the kind of show you have to see more than once) and that I was more a fan of the writing and characters then I was of the acting.
Having said that, there were some performances that must be applauded. Sam Black. There is one word I can sum up his performance with…”actor”. Without a shadow of a doubt he carried the show for me. He had great support from Julia Johnson and Jordan Kinson, more so from Julia as I thought Jordan’s performance didn’t give enough of the pace I thought the character needed. I thought that Shannon Harris as the senile old grandma was a delightful comic treat that made me laugh, which is a hard thing to do, but I think a real standout performance came from Harriet Avery. I wasn’t really aware of her in the last show, but for this she came out of nowhere. She gave a really grounded, emotional performance and I really believed her ordeal on stage.
It’s these performances and a host of other things that have made me really believe that this company has potential and I actually await the day I get to work with them. Although one question does still plague my mind. In a show of Russians and Germans etc, why was there a somewhat out of place Scottish gangster in the midst of it all played by Amy Campbell? It plague’s the mind. A good entertaining show with some unfortunate flaws but overall I award Stalingrad 3.5/5.