Black Watch – Luminato 2008

Review by Sam Mooney

Go see Black Watch! If you’re reading this on Friday morning – June 13 – there are 5 more performances. The play is based on interviews with soldiers – a tank crew – who served in Iraq with the Scottish Black Watch Regiment.


It’s an amazing theatrical experience. It’s funny, and sad, and horrifying. There’s singing and dancing, some quiet moments, and a lot of action.

It’s the first time I’ve been to a play in a hockey rink but it works. I could see everything. I did have a bit of trouble hearing some of the dialogue, not great acoustics combined with Scottish accents and my elderly ears. Still, I can’t imagine seeing this in a theatre.

There’s nothing lavish about the set, a good thing I think because your imagination takes over. In a way it makes the play more personal. The lighting and sound were amazing. At one point I really thought a plane had flown overhead.

Is an anti-war play political? Is being anti-war a moral or an ethical decision? Black Watch is an anti-war play made powerful by the words of the men who were there. The dialogue is quite raw and feels real. Although it’s about Iraq it could as easily be about Afghanistan and the soldiers could as easily be Canadian.

When the play ended there was silence before the applause, something that happens when the audience is really engaged with the performance. something that doesn’t happen very often. There was a standing ovation, a real one, not a Toronto one.

There’s an audience alert “Production contains strong language, loud explosions, and strobelights. May be disturbing to some viewers and is not suitable for young children.” All true. One thing though, if fuck and cunt are words that make you uncomfortable by the end of the play you’ll be completely inured to them as they make up a good 90% of the dialog (okay, I might be exaggerating, but only a little).

The performance is 1 hour and 50 minutes without an intermission so make sure you go to the washroom beforehand.

– Black Watch runs through June 15th at Varsity Arena (275 Bloor St W)
– tickets are $46
Check the site for performance times.