The programme for
While an intriguing concept, the play is too short to pull off the comparison with any subtlety
It’s Daniel’s 50th birthday, so he and his wife Leonie are preparing for a dinner party. In the other room, a television blares news coverage of the war in Kosovo. The couple, recently over a rocky period in their marriage, begin to argue, with opinions on the war acting as the epicenter of a much larger ideological conflict between the two. By the end, the war and the relationship are shown to mirror each other, in several ways.
While an intriguing concept, the play is too short to pull off the comparison with any subtlety. Much of the play is simply exposition: talking about their relationship, or talking about the international tensions in the post-Cold War world. Actual conflict doesn’t begin until 15 minutes in, which is a tremendous portion of a 40-minute show. From there, it accelerates too rapidly, flung forward by lines that lack any human quality.
Performances do little to convince the audience that these two characters are anything other than shills for a political point. Neither Chester Parker and Jana Doughty follow the emotional peaks and valleys of their characters, creating a jarring disconnect between action and audience. This makes the rather extreme climax feel unearned, and even inappropriate.
Collateral Damage cannot connect the past and the present. With an argument formed in fumbling lines and unconvincing performances, it becomes hard not to feel that the conversation in the play happened in a different world, one where the US was uncontested as a dominant superpower and ‘Islamic extremism’ had not yet become a buzzword. Dulled by bare structure, basic dialogue and unconvincing performances, the bombs that Collateral Damage attempts to drop are mere duds.