Toronto playwright Hannah Moscovitch's new work, This Is War,
explores a seemingly regular operation of a group of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan and the resulting inquiry. Moscovitch plays with time and place, splicing back and forth from the inquiry (in the present) to the actual events and memories of it (in the past), showing us the same scene but from multiple characters' lead in. This flipping of perspective, triangulating at the truth, is mirrored in the set design with its angles and low ceiling which stretches out over the audience.
This has a unique effect, challenging us in the audience to look past the surface response for what lies beneath in the fog of war. Reflecting, I do wish this had gone a little further; what if the truth we see from each perspective differs slightly? What more does this tell us about memory and trauma?
That aside, the production itself wasn't as strong as I'd have liked it to be. The performances were adequate, however none of the performers really shone. Nearly all felt stiff in their roles although the physical work by Ian Lake as Private Jonny Henderson is notable, shifting effortlessly between his able bodied past and his injured present.
On the whole, I wanted the piece to deal with the characters in a more balanced way; it came off as Tanya's story, whereas it should have been all of their story, their collective memory which pieces together a semblance of the truth. It wasn't quite muddy enough to truly evoke the feelings of confusion relating to such a moment in time.
Despite all this, I do feel it is worth seeing, even if only as a sparking point for further thought on the issue, the white elephant in every living room in Canada that is rarely discussed; our soldiers and their role in a war where Canada's role is questionable at best.