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March 30, 2009 | by  | in Theatre |
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Necessary Targets

Necessary Targets is a story of war and what it does to women. Written by Eve Ensler, of The Vagina Monologues fame, it tells the story of a wealthy New York psychaitrist’s journey to a Bosnian refugee camp and the women she meets there. Over the play’s 80 minute running time, each character is slowly chipped away, revealing the traumas of war deeply buried within them. It is a powerful script, but not one without fault. It’s oddly paced, clustering emotional revelations together to create a staccato drum beat of a rhythm that doesn’t really lie flush with the rest of the work. There is one ‘we all have problems’ subplot too many, leaving the play feeling cluttered. The final monologue veers eerily close to ruining the whole play by overly moralising and trivialising the experience of these women by placing them too directly through a Western lens. I should point out that this is an issue I have with the scripting and not Loren Martin’s brave performance of that last mighty wall of words and exposition.

Stagecraft Theatre’s production of the play is consumate if ever noticably slightly flawed. These problems are however only slight. The transtitions between scenes and blocking were all slightly clumsy. The performers declaimed slightly rather than spoke. Both the music and lighting are slightly too obviously manipulative and saccarhine. The jokes fall slighty flat. But these problems are, as I have already hopelessly overstressed, slight. They have taken a weighty script and, to all intents and purposes, done it justice. The performances support each other well, with special note having to go out to Christine Hunt for her deliciously mannered performance as Azra, the old woman who only misses her cow, and Dee Guja’s haunted performance as Zlata. The set by Claire Hewitt is also perfectly executed, filling the Gryphon in a way I have never seen before, making a dynamic and visually interesing play space.

At the end of the day, the only true measure of quality for a piece of theatre is how effective it is. How literally effective that is. How directly and totally it can touch the audience emotionally. And while both the script and production could do with maybe two more weeks in the workshop, that doesn’t stop the work on stage gripping you as an audience member and tugging at your heartstrings. It wasn’t brilliant, it wasn’t genius. But it was good. A nice, big, warm good.

Written by Eve Ensler
Directed by Claire Hewitt
With Loren Martin, Tanya Piejus, Dee Guja, Kate Blackhurst, Christine Hunt, Emmy Wafer and Eva Corlett
At the Gryphon Theatre, 25 March–4 April 2009.

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About the Author ()

Uther was one of the two arts editors in 2009. He was the horoscopier and theatre writer in 2010. Alongside Elle Hunt, Uther was coeditor in 2011.

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