Split Britches: Unexploded Ordnances (UXO) – The Barbican

Writer: Lois Weaver, Peggy Shaw, and Hannah Maxwell.

Director: Lois Weaver.

Reviewer: Hannah Powell

Unexploded Ordnances; old relics from wars past buried just beneath the surface of the ground, a small possibility of them destructing ever present. Maybe in a minute, a day, a week, a month… Split Britchesencourage us to explore the topics of ageing, anxiety, and desire through conversation and collaboration in their one-hour ten-minute part scripted, part conversation play; Unexploded Ordnances (UXO).

To begin the set appears like it’s literally stepped out of a scene from Dr Strangelove. Lit up white tables arranged in a circle like some kind of board meeting, red rocking chairs, and a bright red old-fashioned wire telephone. Three giant screens cover the back wall of the stage and so commences the evening. The general (Peggy Shaw) and Madam President (Lois Weaver) have arranged a meeting to discuss the end of the world with the board of elders (basically the oldest audience members in the room handpicked at the beginning of the play).

This meeting is to discuss what worries us. As the oldest and therefore presumably the wisest members of the audience it falls to them to share our thoughts, ranging from incontinence, and ageing, to what is reality, and the war in Palestine. A timer is set… well, timers, as every member of the audience is requested to set a timer for 59 minutes exactly to keep the play on schedule. Presumably, they wished for a larger sound to interrupt the proceedings from the phones, however, unfortunately, due to theatre etiquette is so deeply ingrained in today’s audiences, that the very idea of a phone going off in the auditorium is so embarrassing that those present did not wish to do so. When finally, the time came for the timers to sound, a pitiful few let out a very lacklustre quiet beeping.

There are certain parts of the play that perhaps this reviewer is just too young to understand; the general making reference to him being a ’60-minute man’, the repeated phone calling from his lady love interrupting the meeting. References such as these, unfortunately, went straight over my head but as most of the audience was most definitely older than my twenty-one years, one is positive they understood and enjoyed the references. Most definitely from the audible laughing and clapping.

Overall, an enjoyable evening – but for those under the age of say thirty, perhaps this is not the show for you – unless of course you are a big fan of Stanley Kubrick or you worry about ageing and time similar to that of a 65-year-old person.

Runs until 19 May 2018 | Image: Contributed

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