war war brand war

Brand New and Pembroke Players’ joint production of Thom May’s war war brand war is wonderfully witty and compelling. The actors make the intimate space of Paradise in the Vault come alive with their depiction of a dystopian not-so-distant future in which war is about buzzwords instead of bullets.

This evocative satire is politically aware writing at its best

The UK is once again insistent on military intervention in the Middle East. This time around, one country’s nuclear weapons are the target and the effects of the ruthless spin campaign surrounding the “intervention” are felt by journalists, advertising executives and politicians alike. The key reason that this combination of capitalist agenda and military planning is so unsettling is that it doesn’t seem particularly far-fetched. The media’s long-running smear campaign of Iran is testament to the effect of ‘marketing’ certain views that leads them to becoming public opinion. As war war brand war asks, when every word we hear has been considered to provide a particular effect, churned out by human thesauruses armed with tablets, is there really such a thing as political transparency?

The pace is excellent throughout and the forty-five minutes flies by, thanks to the exceptionally strong cast of eight. The play could easily have been twice that length and still captivate its audience; it is difficult to choose standout performances as all eight are clearly very assured and talented performers. A projected collage of adverts, political rallies, war footage and clips from a ‘Virtual Cultural Awareness Trainer’ reflects and contrasts with the action on stage to great effect.

The ending doesn’t feel particularly final; though the issues surrounding the UK’s foreign policy in the Middle East can hardly be resolved by a 45 minute piece of theatre, it might need some sort of marker to signpost that it’s concluding. It’s unclear whether this stems from the script or this particular production but, in any case, it was telling that the directors had to begin the applause quite so enthusiastically in order for everyone to realise that the show had finished. Given the content’s focus on presentation of message this small aspect may be worth improving upon in future productions.

Overall then, this evocative satire is politically aware writing at its best: sharp, darkly funny and unsanctimonious. war war brand war is a clever play produced and acted well, resulting in an end product both entertaining and poignant that will leave you thinking all the way home.

Reviews by Hattie Long

Basic Mountain

Filthy Talk for Troubled Times

theSpace @ Venue45

The Norman Conquests

New Town Theatre


theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

A Traffic Jam on Sycamore Street

Assembly Hall

be-dom: The Beat Bang!

Paradise in The Vault

war war brand war




The Blurb

A soldier comes home. A journalist loses his mind. An advertising firm markets a war. An adaptation of the Oresteia for a century of humanitarian intervention and marketised warfare, war war brand war, the winner of the 2014 RSC Other Prize, interrogates family, war and tragedy in the internet age. As new technology and hubris lead nations into deadly wars with all of the relentlessness of the ticker tape that scrolls across the bottom of news channels and stock exchanges, one family’s imbalance of power brings violence to an international arena.