SKaGeN @ Space Theatre
2:00pm, Wed 4 Mar 2015
After last year’s BigMouth, I was willing to commit to anything that Valentijn Dhaenens was involved in… and, on the surface, SmallWaR – conceived as a companion piece when touring BigMouth – looked to be cut from the same cloth.
Where his previous piece dealt with well-known, public-aware speeches, SmallWaR deals with a much smaller scale – it’s a much more personal narrative, dealing with two distinct entities: the nurse and the wounded. Dhaenens plays the nurse in real-time, and his portrayal of the wounded (who come in many forms, but focus on an amputee that the nurse is directly tending) is projected or screened onto multiple surfaces around the stage.
SmallWaR creates a tangible – and moving – sense of horror in the helplessness of the wounded, and the anti-war messages inferred from the characters borders on polemic. But it’s all so cold: the staging, though technically adept, seems unnecessarily complex, and there’s a lack of subtlety to the production that makes the message feel one-note.
That’s not taking anything away from the message: SmallWaR has something to say, and is able to distill that message for maximum impact. But the unwavering method of its delivery left me feeling numb by the end of the show; not from the horror, but by the constant attacks on its subject.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 4, 2015