Wednesday, February 10, 2010

They’re Dropping Bombs Not Ham Sandwiches by Michael Nash

They’re Dropping Bombs Not Ham Sandwiches
Michael Nash
Cervena Barva Press

Review by Renee Schwiesow

Michael Nash is not a novice when it comes to writing for the stage. A teacher of drama and English, his passion for stage productions shows in his work, which includes “Public Heroes, Private Friends” and the musical “Signs of Fire,” a work about the last year of Van Gogh’s life. Nash’s extensive background in theatre includes twenty productions and this experience is showcased in “They’re dropping bombs not Ham Sandwiches,” which takes place in a hospital corridor.

“We will remember them,” a doctor and nurse proclaim.

“We will remember,” the rest of the cast responds.

As reader, we are reminded to remember as well. Nash’s work offers the opportunity to spend time eavesdropping on a conversation between an elderly gentleman, who served during WW II, and a young man who was the recent victim of a terrorist attack in Northern Ireland. Back and forth we go, bouncing from the conversation and recollections of the elderly man’s war experience to the younger man’s questioning, searching for answers.

The entire cast is comprised of five characters who build the story that affirms the heartbreak of war throughout the two acts. Perhaps it is the sparseness of character and set that add to the starkness of reality, the poignancy of the dialogue that Nash has written. Perhaps it is the white walls that drive us to feel the madness of wars where men are marched “like lambs to the slaughter.”

On occasion we are witness to dialogue that finds us retreating into quiet contemplation. On occasion we leave a work unable to immediately articulate the emotional impact the dialogue has upon us. We are left stranded in thought; we are left holding compassion for the countless others across the world that the characters represent. “They’re Dropping Bombs not Ham Sandwiches,” is one such work. Those of us who have not experienced war first hand, indeed know nothing of the horror. But Nash’s dialogue and his characters draw us into a world that unfolds into vivid picture, and his words:

“Makes you wonder how anybody can treat another human being in such a way. . .used for horrendous experiments. Butchered. And burnt. . .”

resound in our ears long after we have put the play down.

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