The Palace of the End (4 stars)

This article is from 2009

The Palace of the End

Caught between Iraq and a hard place

A third of Judith Thompson’s trilogy of monologues – an imagined conversation with Lynndie England, perhaps the most noticed of the convicted Abu Ghraib prison guards – was seen at the Traverse some years back. Its two new additions add a cumulative power to an already compelling night of political theatre.

From England’s (Kellie Bright) discourse, which brings a history of her own sexual and physical abuse as a context to her brief career as a military policeman, we move to the final conversation with Dr David Kelly (Robert Demeger), as he sits propped against the tree at the scene of his death, the lifeblood running from him, then to a middle-aged Iraqi woman (Eve Polycarpou) who has suffered the extinction of her entire family, at the hands, first of the Ba’athist regime, then the US invaders.

What’s so startling about Greg Hersov’s production is the subtle way in which each piece becomes a commentary upon, not just the protagonists, but our own tacit complicity in the grisly, murderous bloodbaths that have been ongoing since 2003. There are strong performances from all three monologists, with Demeger’s picture of a civilised English bourgeois corrupted by the rapacious realpolitik of his circumstances particularly outstanding.

Traverse Theatre, 228 1404, until 30 Aug (not 24), times vary, £16–£18 (£11–£12).

Palace of the End

  • 4 stars

A female soldier accused of prisoner abuse, a disgraced British UN weapons inspector, a persecuted Iraqi woman - each wrestle with the truth in this hard-hitting play. ***** (Guardian);**** (Times).By Judith Thompson.