Dan O’Brien’s prize-winning verbatim play – The Body of an American

Dan O’Brien’s prize-winning verbatim play – The Body of an American

In 1993 Canadian photographer Paul Watson, covering the war in Somalia, takes a picture of a dead and mutilated American soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu. The picture wins him a Pulitzer Prize. As he bent down to take the picture he thought he heard the dead soldier say, “If you do this I will own you forever.”

Dan O’Brien’s prize-winning verbatim play, inspired by Watson’s book, Where War Lives, is based on his correspondence, conversations and meetings with Watson.

The result is partly a war documentary, partly a discussion on the ethics of photojournalism, and partly the study of the haunted conscience of a man who has spent a lifetime witnessing and recording the horrors of genocide.

Tanitch at the Theatre

War (said Albert Camus) lives in each one of us. In the loneliness and humiliation we all feel. Watson, who has always focused on getting a good shot and shutting everything else out, feels guilty about the propaganda impact the photograph has had. He feels his photograph has desecrated the dead soldier and himself.

James Dacre’s concentrated production, set on a traverse stage, in a claustrophobic fuselage space, is challenging not only for the actors, but also for the audience. William Geminara and Damien Molony are excellently cast as photographer and playwright respectively:  two haunted men, two crazed misfits. They also play all the other roles. Their actual delivery of the dialogue is an impressive tour de force in itself.

by Robert Tanitch, Mature Times theatre reviewer

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