This week I saw Pink Mist by Owen Sheers at the Bristol Old Vic. The show was recommended by a lecturer, and several students, so I thought I’d check it out. Overhyping anything normally means I’m left disappointed, but boy was I wrong. War is a subject I rarely watch on stage. It’s normally infested with gimmicks and clichés – cue bomb sound effects, blood, and bad fake deaths. Pink Mist, however, was quite the opposite.
As a drama student I was excited for this play. Written in verse and including physical theatre, this is every theatre enthusiast’s dream. The performance space is small, a raised white platform on the stage itself, but this certainly does not limit the movement. From the offset it is clear that this is a clever directorial choice, not only highlighting the claustrophobic scenes of war but reflecting the relationships within the play. The use of verse creates a lyrical tone to the piece; the actors approached it very well, not emphasising the rhymes but allowing them to blend into the background as you drift into the world of storytelling. This is a form of playwriting I have never encountered before, but one I would love to try myself now!
Pink Mist at first seemed to be a jolly story but it soon unravelled, leaving behind the intense theatre of war. With three male actors and three female, this play showed the consequences of war for everyone involved, directly and indirectly. It was refreshing to see the topic tackled at a new angle, demonstrating the devastating outcomes of war on the people left behind. The play sensitively tackled disability, mental health, and many other subjects associated with soldiers. Similarly, it highlighted the women left behind in this story, struggling to pick up the pieces. Each story was told through the use of language, with one character narrating a piece of the puzzle, and physical theatre sequences. The non-literal movement was breath taking. Each carefully devised section complimented the narrative, showing the internal thoughts and feelings of characters. The story builds to a wonderful crescendo which left the whole auditorium stunned into silence for the duration of the second act. To cry at a performance is a wonderful feeling, but to be so captivated by the raw and truthful impact that it was not possible for my emotionally exhausted body to produce a tear was an amazing experience.
The simplistic approach to this subject has earned Pink Mist my very first, and very positive, review. Altogether this was a well written play, experimenting with new and exciting techniques. The use of physical theatre combined with the use of sound and lighting enabled the show to portray its true message. It was stimulating to see a modern performance of war, based in a battle we all knew and grew up in, as opposed to the likes of War Horse and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. I truly recommend Pink Mist to everyone if you get the chance!