Review: We Were Kings, theSpace
Published in FEST, 12.08.2014
Certain subjects take some life experience. War is one. Heartbreak’s another. Emerging playwright Daniel Cameron clearly hasn’t encountered one or the other. He should be thankful, but he shouldn’t be writing plays about them either.
We Were Kings puts three old mates together in a pub, slinging arrows and accusations. Max is about to embark on his second tour of duty. Jack won’t be coming with him, having taken a bullet last time round – from his best friend’s friendly fire, no less. He’s a bullying sort, Jack, bitter and misogynistic, unable to let go. So when he spots his girlfriend Rosie—soon, he hopes, his fiancé—flirting with Max, festering resentments come to the surface.
If there’s a central gesture here it’s a grinding sense of lost hope. The title refers back to a night the three friends spent at Burger King, wearing cardboard crowns and dreaming of big futures that have since disintegrated. Jordan Blackwood’s production handles its flashbacks neatly, with a fluid use of physical theatre to segue in an out.
The problem, though, is that Cameron’s writing neither rings true nor becomes clear. It’s a soup of different themes that muddy one another, so you’re never quite sure of its real concern: Soldiers? Students? Chauvinists? It doesn’t much matter, to be honest: the writing feels second-hand, replicating tropes from crap tele dramas before looking to real life for inspiration.