Black Watch

Black Watch once again transforms the main house for the welcome return of National Theatre of Scotland’s multi award winning portrayal of life as a soldier in Iraq and back home.

A sell-out at this address a couple of years ago, and a well deserved hit at the Edinburgh Festival two years before that, the inspired staging of Black Watch has lost none of its emotional power.

What comes across most strongly is the loyal camaraderie of these Fifeshire lads and the realisation that, unless you were there, you can’t really know what it was like to live through the waiting, the bombing, and the indelible horror of seeing your comrades blown up by a suicide bomber.

With much of his material gleaned from interviews with ex-squaddies, Gregory Burke’s joshing, expletive-filled dialogue rings as true uttered in civvies round the pool table as in fatigues crammed into an armoured car.

Director John Tiffany employs a stirringly atmospheric mix of video, music, skirling bagpipes and stylised movement, with Steven Hoggett’s visceral choreography fusing the disciplined drill of the parade ground with softer, almost balletic moments as, one after another, the soldiers open their letters from home.

A strong ensemble gives their all – a fitting salute to the young men who fought not for Queen, Government or country, but for their regiment, their company, their platoon and, most importantly, for the mates they hoped would still be alive at the end of their tour of peacekeeping duty.


Barbican, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS
020 7638 8891
Tube: Barbican tube
Until 22nd January

– Louise Kingsley