A Sorrowful Truth

The Collector

Walker Theatre

29th September-1st October 2016


When one talks of history one often hears the adage that history is always written by the winners; Well maybe that’s so but it doesn’t mean to say that every account is necessarily  untrue.  “The Collector,” is the piece that one could hold up to the world and say this an honest account of The West’s behaviour in Gulf War 2 and we allegedly won that.

The point being is that this play whilst written by Henry Naylor himself a Westerner, aks questions about American tactics and raises the far greater concern that in this war, nobody really won. From chaos comes chaos. The issue of justice ad bellum or justified war isn’t even raised in this piece, it is about a far greater issue, that of human/Inhuman  capabilities of all combatants in the theatre of war.

Beautiful acted, The Collector, tells the story of a Westernised Iraqi man who becomes a translator for the Westerners in Mazrat Prison, a former Saddam torture prison. Initially the prison was being run on a moralistic and Geneva Convention kind of way until the translator finally finds himself in the invidious position of facing well known Iraqi thug. That’s ok until a prison break finds the killer free and able to start wreaking his own kind of havoc towards the translator’s family.

Through beautiful use of narration,reconstruction and the removal of the fourth wall, this piece is one of the finest pieces of agit-prop theatre that has been in the Walker for sometime. The three brilliant players Olivia Beardsley, William Reay and Anna Riding perform this show so well. There is evidence of deep research going into the characters and this was proven relentlessly in the portrayal of this horrendous tale.

Informative, frank and honest are just three adjectives one could use to sum up this stunning show. It was pacey, ironic and important. The reason it is important is because this play fills in the blanks of this strange war that for the majority of us living in the leafy West, made absolutely no sense at all.

Reay’s performance of the beleaguered American soldier briefed with the unenviable task of running the prison is incredible; one is sorrowed to watch all his best intentions fall by the wayside as reality and hatred rear their ugly heads. His use of expression, his gesture and movement are faultless and should be held up as a template for this style of black box theatre. This show is here until Saturday and I would recommend drama students and other people with dramatic aspirations to go and watch this man work this part so well.

This is great theatre, this is great theatricality. We all need to make sense of this time in our history. Politicians speak and speak, they posture and they pose and they will always try to appear in the best light. In that way truths are lost. The messages made in drama are far less ephemeral.   After all who wants to listen to hours of politicians trying to win the next vote by covering truths or an hour and five minutes of truth filled drama?  It is hoped that one doesn’t struggle too much with the answer to that one.

Director Michael Cabot has beautifully brought from page to stage a piece of drama that is asking the right questions and will keep on doing so. This is an impressive show with a highly impressive cast that leaves ones-self asking  the question that maybe we weren’t that impressive over there after all?  Long may those questions be asked and just maybe one day, answered.

This is a Five Star review.



Sofia Lewis Sofia Lewis
For many years Sofia wrote here under her male name Owen J. Lewis. She is now mostly writing under her own name of Sofia Lewis. Sofia, who worked on independent radio for over ten years, lives in Shrewsbury and writes plays. She has over 15 titles published and her plays are performed all over the world. She is especially popular in America. Her poetry is also often noted and she writes reams of it most weeks. Since graduating in theatre in 1997 Sofia has been an Actor, Filmmaker, and a Secondary School Teacher. Reviewing theatre is something she thoroughly enjoys and she loves to see great theatre. As a musician Sofia is known throughout the UK she is a folk singer, and is often seen or heard around her native county singing and having fun. Sofia has contributed to loveshrewsbury.com for over a decade and enjoys sharing her views on theatre. Sofia has one daughter and grew up in Church Stretton.

Read More from Sofia Lewis