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Goldstar Member’s Event Journal

Black Watch

Black watch 920
Wednesday May 29, 2013 / 2:00pm
Black Watch
2 tickets
Rear Orchestra
333 14th St.
San Francisco, CA 94103

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While the show is probably accurate in its gritty portrayal of a Scottish soldier's life in Iraq and the difficulty former soldiers would have re-adapting to life back at home, it generally falls more into the category of education or propaganda than entertainment. I expected there to be more about the history of the Black Watch regiment--and what there was, was theatrical and entertaining--but most of the story was about the last service of that regiment during the recent Iraq war, and what a mistake it was for the individual soldiers and the British and the US to be there. I can recite about 80% of the dialogue for you after having heard it only once, as it mostly consisted of variations on two four-letter words. That was funny for awhile and probably realistic, but it seemed to contradict the claim made by one character early on that he was a soldier by choice and not because he didn't have other options. On the contrary, the army seemed to be a dead-end job in every sense for these young men, who if they returned home, returned to equally dead-end civilian jobs and spent every weekend in a bar in the the company of their remaining regiment buddies. That hasn't been the case for most of the people I know who've served in the U.S. military--although it certainly has been for some--so I would expect there was variation in the Scottish experience as well. We didn't see that variation; all the soldiers portrayed seemed pretty interchangeable with the possible exception of the officer, whose explanation for his career choice was that generations of his family had done it, so it was in the blood and he had no other options. I'm sure that officer and many others who joined up to serve with the Black Watch were attracted by the legendary history of the unit. We were not shown enough about that to understand the attraction. There was some discussion in the play that the motivation of the enemy in Iraq, especially the suicide bombers, involved their belief in an afterlife. That discussion did NOT specifically mention that these Muslim boys had also been told that heaven included access for each man to dozens of willing virgins. Yet whenever there was discussion of the reasons the Scottish soldiers had gone to war, greater access to willing women was always high on the list. I don't think the playwrights intended that parallel to be obvious, but it's one I took away from the show.