“What’s happening out there?”
At just 20 minutes long, Ding Dong the Wicked is a new Caryl Churchill playlet that can be seen at various afternoon and late evening slots as it fits around her other show downstairs at the Royal Court, Love and Information. The two are not connected so do not need to be seen in tandem, just consider it a Brucie bonus for Churchill fans, a cadeau de Caryl if you will.
In a living room, a family prepares for the sending of one of its sons to war. They drink vodka, too much; patriotic jingoism is spouted blindly as battles rage on television screens; troubled familial dynamics are hinted at with squabbling aplenty and furtive affairs emerging. Then ten minutes later, we move to another country where things seem the same, but different.
The same six actors play different characters and they speak the same lines but completely reordered, shifting expectations and meanings. It is a simple idea yet executed with great technical accomplishment in Dominic Cooke’s production, Churchill managing to pack in contrasting takes on the same war and its effects on our humanity with a lingering thoughtfulness.
Sophie Stanton and John Marquez stand out in the ensemble though there are no real weak links and the forced perspective of the set, which is inverted part-way through, evokes the right claustrophobic environment. An intriguing, thought-provoking curio which demonstrates the lasting power that even a short play can have.