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John Retallack and George Mann directed the theatrical debut of Owen Sheers play “Pink Mist”.
Who wants to play war?
Best friends Arthur, Hads and Taff were barely out of their teens when they were deployed to Afghanistan. Returning to the women in their lives who must now share the physical and psychological aftershocks of their service, they find their journey home is their greatest battle.
After its first production at Bristol Old Vic in July 2015 Pink Mist played at the Bush Theatre London in January 2016 before returning to the Bristol Old Vic from 16 Feb – 5 Mar 2016. It subsequently toured nationally from January to April 2017.
Review of Pink Mist (Independent newspaper : 27 Jan, 2016)
The impact of Owen Sheers’ verse-drama is cumulatively devastating in this immaculately staged and performed production by John Retallack and George Mann. Three young friends from Bristol (Arthur, Taff, and Hads) join the army and are deployed to Afghanistan. The play is acute about the terrible double bind. They enlist to escape from home and dead-end jobs (“what’s next after Next?”) but none of them returns in one piece physically or psychologically and the women left to pick up the pieces are themselves casualties of war.
The fact that traumatic memories of Afghanistan continue to ambush the combatants with shocking suddenness as they struggle to adjust to civilian life in Bristol is stunningly conveyed in the spare, fluid, dream-like staging where the terrific, tightly drilled cast express themselves in synchronised movement and where the harrowing pain of the flashbacks is underscored by the suggestive sound and lighting designs of, respectively, Jon Nicholls and Peter Harrison. The rhythmic patterning of the verse, delivered with a ripe Bristolian lilt, gives the story and its insights into the war-fomenting cycle of love, grief and revenge, an immemorial feel, eloquently fusing the topical and the timeless. Not to be missed.
TOP 10 PLAY OF 2015
The Guardian, The Observer
Owen Sheers’ Pink Mist was inspired by interviews with retired servicemen, and bravely exposes the mental scars of war.
“Fearlessly lyrical in its imagery” (The Times), this critically acclaimed show matches Sheers’ haunting verse with a dream-like physical language that sings with love, grief and friendship.
“Pink Mist may be the most important play of the year. It is certainly one of the best” WhatsOnStage (5 stars)
“(Pink Mist) confronts the cycle of love and grief and revenge that fuels war…It also heart-rendingly articulates the experience of the mothers, wives and girlfriends who pick up the pieces…Heartbreaking” Guardian (4 stars)
“John Retallack and George Mann’s production is intense, spare. Here is a play that deserves a further life. As did its characters.” Observer (4 Stars)
“an emotion-wrenching piece” Independent (4 Stars)
“John Retallack’s fluid, dream-like production physically matches the script’s verve…this must have a further life.” Telegraph (4 stars)
“(Pink Mist) explodes onto the Bristol Old Vic stage with a young cast on top of its game. This is a tour-de-force” StageTalk (5 stars)
“What I can only describe as theatre history. Extraordinary.”
“Contemporary theatre of the best I’ve ever seen. Exceptional.” Lynette Quinlan, BBC Radio Bristol “Stunning” Bristol Post (5 stars)
“A remarkable experience that stays with its audience far after the numerous standing ovations subside. This ground-breaking piece of theatre is not one to be missed” The Fix (5 stars)
“From the three standing ovations on press night it’s clear we won’t be able to keep this to ourselves for long. Go now, before the rest of the country clamour for it.” Bristol247
“People go to the theatre to be entertained, educated, lose themselves in another world and to be made to think. It is not often that one production meets all of those criteria…A stunning piece of theatrical poetry” Wells Journal
“a sterling cast directed with a dynamic choreography of movement, light and sound…Pink Mist is a moving drama every young person should see” Wales Arts Review
“The young cast is impeccable…The voices may be local and contemporary, but the themes are ageless and universal” The Public Reviews (5 stars)
“Theatre validates itself by looking afar and with depth. “Pink Mist” stands proudly and superbly alongside these predecessors.” Theatre Wales
“A truly extraordinary experience. This is a body-blow of a play…. and, mercifully, it reaffirms beautifully the ability of the human spirit to soar, in spite of everything.” British Theatre Guide
“Pink Mist made my spine tingle. Mesmerising, hard-hitting & brilliantly told.” Laura Rawlings, BBC Radio Bristol