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TNC Fringe Archive 2014 
Theatre Review


By Bianca Bagatourian 

The Time of Our Lies
Gilded Balloon 
Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Theatre, for good or bad, has the power to elicit an instant response from its audience. The live experience of theatre means there is no mute or pause button, leaving one to sit there and look on in awe with the actors holding your gaze. But every now and then a piece of theatre comes along that doesn’t just hold your gaze, it firmly takes hold of you and doesn't let you go. 

This year, playwright Bianca Bagatourian and director Josh Chambers premiered "The Time of Our Lies" at the Edinburgh Fringe. A biopic on renowned American historian, author, and social activist Howard Zinn is told through movement, song, and powerfully delivered monologues. In Zinn's life, choices and regrets are brought out through words and images, which are projected onto three whiteboards at the back of the stage.


The opening scene was a combination of Charlotte Di Gregorio's hauntingly beautiful voice and Maureen Fleming's choreography, which had the entire company moving in slow motion. This made you sit up, and from the outset, you knew that this was not going to be an easy piece of theatre to sit through. But you know that because Bagatourian's play is firmly placed in history, the ride you're taken on is one of truth, clarity, and reflection.

As the company slides in and out of the set pieces, each piece a delicate moment of movement and song, one begins to witness the motive and power at the heart of this production. Politicians are perhaps more judged by history, and it is through historical examples that the audience is exposed to these self-serving politicians who tend to have a universal disregard for the public. 

This is illustrated during WW2 when the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. The US command was told that there was a POW camp less than a mile away from ground zero, but no change of order was given and ‘The Fat Man’ was dropped. And then there was the destruction of the French seaside town of Royan in 1945, even though the war had been technically won by the Allies, making another bombing raid unnecessary. At times, the information one is given by Bagatourian gives you an uneasy, sickly feeling as if you don’t want to believe the information you've been given. One holds some ignorant faith that at least some of it will be false.

"Di Gregorio's voice shakes ones soul. Each note is meant to have an effect on the listener and it does."

There is a calmness to the play that is aided greatly by Fleming's movement, which is paced and slow yet filled with frustration, confusion, and anger. Chambers's direction follows both Bagatourian’s text and Fleming’s movement, creating the final part of this piece that beautifully connects it all.

The company has no easy task in bringing Zinn’s life to the stage, but they have connected to this work with an amazing zeal. The belief and truth that are in every inch of their performances leave one breathless. The beauty that is created in theatre comes first from its text and then from the performance, and there isn’t a moment within this play that one does not feel the burning passion of this company. 

Not one performer stands out over another. They, much like the spirit of the play, work together as a group, supporting each other and ensuring that there is a net in place for the emotional highs and lows that arise during the hour. DiGregorio's voice shakes one’s soul. Each note is meant to have an effect on the listener and it does. And Antonio Anangaran and Jorge Castaeda bring unflinching realism to the brutality of war, man's choices, and the pangs of regret. Finally, Natasha Corinne and Dana L. Wilson bring both a gentle warmth and a powerful clarity to Zinn’s life and experience. 

"The Time of Our Lies" is a play created to showcase the power of history and how a man can change and realize his mistakes. Though this is a touchingly frank and emotionally rich production, it still manages to provide inspiration and hope.

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