New World Order (4 stars)

This article is from 2008.

New World Order

Neo-conspiracy crimes, Shakespearean-style

Fringe acclaimed over the last two years for Love Labours Won, West Yorkshire writer, director and performer Ryan JW Smith returns with a much more bitter pill.

Smith loves Shakespeare. His is the cut'n'paste approach to the bard; his conceit here is to try and imagine how England's greatest dramatist would have dealt with the international maelstroms of today. New World Order is, unlike his previous plays, a monologue in which he contemplates 9/11, the invasion of Iraq, the mass invocation of terrorism paranoia and other US neo-con crimes of the past seven years. With only a chair and a bottle of vodka for company, this unkempt man in black (singlet, jeans and army boots) delivers a Machiavellian lecture in metered verse on the very modern approach to crude oil appropriation. As he points out: 'the truth is sick and black'.

Moving between the characters of a nefarious ruler, a soldier and a fool, Smith powerfully manages to hold the audience with this challenging agit prop-style work. His use of the stage and props could be better, but it's the words that matter here and they are stunning and convincingly delivered.

Gilded Balloon Teviot, 668 1633, until 25 Aug, 12.30pm, £10-£12.

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