Bristol Old Vic Review: Pink Mist

By July 9, 2015 September 23rd, 2018 No Comments

Don’t miss Pink Mist

Play fighting in the playground. Tom foolery on a night out on the Thekla. “Who wants to play war”, bellows the six actors at the top of their voices.

Pink Mist is a powerful drama about three young Bristol boys who sign up to serve in the Army, go to war in Afghanistan, then come back as men. Some might say the topics it covers are cliché; relationship breakdowns, psychological trauma, loss of limb, loss of life. But there is nothing cliché about it. This is war. This is the reality of war.

Who wants to play war?

The set in the middle of Bristol Old Vic theatre is simple; a white, square stage, a low wooden table (that later turns out to be a recliner lounger) and a wheelchair. Add six plain clothed actors and you have everything that makes up Pink Mist.

As the play starts, I’m staring directly at the eyes of Arthur (played by a Bristol Old Vic Theatre graduate, Phil Dunster) and I’m mesmerised. The words are enchanting yet powerful and I knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed. I felt my chest tighten a little and I had to take a breath to settle my racing heart.

Pink Mist is beautiful and the way the words came alive as a play was magical. The repetition of certain sentences anchored you firmly in the story and the drama as it unfolded. The actors’ impeccable movements flowed across the stage like a dance. Their hand movements were balletic, even when they were firing machine guns.

Transforming the poem, which was originally broadcast on radio, into a play has worked brilliantly. The defining moment of this for me was as the scene unfolded when Hads was blown up by a landmine. I caught myself thinking that this wouldn’t have been as dramatic if it was just read aloud. The slow motion movements, the dramatic music and the absence of words created something truly dramatic. It was like you were there, watching in on a scene from your own life but slightly detached from reality.

When I’m asked if I like poetry my usual response is ‘no, I’m not a fan of poetry’. Watching Pink Mist has made me realise that this claim is completely unsubstantiated. I’m basing it on the poetry I studied at school, when I wasn’t inspired by it, when I didn’t really know what it was about.

Pink Mist stays with you long after you leave the theatre: the dance of the words; the stories of what happens to young men and women who go to war zones to serve their country, to serve us; the choreography on stage to make something so minimalist fill the entire theatre.

I was completely blown away by this play and it has opened my eyes to a world of theatre that I have never considered before. I would strongly encourage everyone to go and see it before it ends, on 11 July 2015.

This post first appeared on Bristol #PROSPECTUS, a project that has now ended.