100 Reasons for War

June 3, 2024 by Alex First
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A Melbourne theatre review by Alex First

War is juxtaposed with day-to-day trials and tribulations in 100 Reasons for War                                 Photo by Harper Owen

Tom Holloway’s 100 Reasons for War (2015) has been updated to reflect present-day conflict in Calamity Practice’s uproarious, disturbing production of the work.

At one point, all eight actors that form the ensemble detail the multitude of unending fighting that has taken place since the Great War (WWI).

It doesn’t make for pretty watching (not that it is meant to, of course).

The play juxtaposes war with day-to-day trials and tribulations … personal disagreements, fights and the patriarchy.

It raises the issue of love that can be, and often is, smothering (many of the characters are on the verge of walking out on their partners) and that words can be violent.

One of the cast tries to link humanity’s constant battles back to the beginning of the universe.

He contends that we are still feeling the aftershocks of the explosion that set everything off.

100 Reasons for War unfolds through a series of vignettes that express fear, anger, frustration, love and life.

It covers relationships straight and gay, the mundane and the ridiculous.

The actors adopt different personas and interact with each other in various guises during the play’s 90-minute running time.

There is a strong physicality about the piece, which works a treat. It moves along at pace. A series of dance numbers lighten the load.

What stood out for me was a story about Bonobos that found peaceful coexistence in a setting where the Alpha males were extinguished.

I have long contended that if we all spoke the same language (in other words, if we upended the Tower of Babel storyline), we could be well on the way to resolving conflict.

However, even that is shot down in 100 Reasons for War as a fascinating tale of Ukrainian-born Charles Bliss is told.

He came up with the idea of the universal use of symbols but found that his concept was exploited for nefarious purposes.

Then follows another tale about the invention of public relations and how that sullied the waters.

I was fascinated and intrigued by what I saw unfolding.

Calamity Practice has done an excellent job with the material.

I thought the acting and interplay were tremendous.

Each of the performers has their time to shine and shine they do.

The work is funny and smart, and enterprising.

Mind you, I can’t get away from the portent of doom that hangs over the piece.

Dare I say, man’s inhumanity to man seems to know no bounds.

Directed by Bob Pavlich, 100 Reasons for War is playing at fortyfivedownstairs until 16th June, 2024.

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