Black Watch – swearing like troopers

I was fortunate enough to get a couple of tickets to the National Theatre of Scotlands production of the multi award winning play  Black Watch.

The play, based on interviews with former and serving soldiers in the regiment during it’s two deployments to Iraq is a masterpiece of theatre and it’s easy to see why it has won so many awards (10+).

Clever staging and at times mesmorising and innovative choreography are used to great effect, reinforcing the idea of team work and regimentation throughout.  In one particular  scene where Ross Anderson as Rossco, tells a potted history of the Regiment, the actor is  changed into the various uniforms by the other cast members all the while reciting it’s history. It’s a breathtaking piece of acting, with the ensemble cast working in unison like a well oiled machine.

The writing does not shirk either and the realism of the writing appears to have upset the Culture Minister Nelson McCausland, who attended the opening night. The phrase swearing like a trooper was made for this play. The use of vernacular and the cadence of the Taysiders reminded me in parts of Begbie in Trainspotting (links to video and swearing). From start to finish there is a barrage of foul language which, after the initial shock of hearing soon fades into the background as you become accustomed to it, understanding it to be part of the everyday speech of the soldiers.

The play raises questions as to the after effects of war and like the film  Restrepo which i watched recently, leads me to think that former soldiers are being left to their own devices when it comes to treatment for the  psychological effects of war.

Aside from the Ministers (predictable) personal view of  profanity and swearing i find it curious that he should be mentioning (in the comments section) a legal case against Factotum brought by Belfast City Council.

Is he hinting at the possible censure of an organisation in receipt of funding from his department ?

Anyway i thoroughly enjoyed Black Watch which is as prescient now as it was when commissioned in 2005.

Perhaps there could be a similarly commissioned piece telling the story of the Royal Irish Rangers. The accents might not be the same but i’d hazard a guess that the story and language would be similar.