What I Heard About Iraq review - SkinnyFest 2

Article by Jonathan Liew | 14 Aug 2006
The Iraq war, it is now generally accepted, was a shambles. However, objective fact has taken a back seat in the popular imagination to a mythology, strung loosely around 9/11, political machination and a lust for oil. What I Heard About Iraq attempts to restore the fact to the equation. It consists solely of five performers reciting statistics, quotes and events so as to create a quasi-narrative that is ostensibly intended to chronicle, rather than judge, the march to war and the subsequent struggle for peace.

For the most part, it's intelligent and well-performed, and carries an emotional kick that raises it above the level of the average history lesson. But it falls well short of the detached, uncoloured account of the crisis it initially appears to be. Through subtle embellishments of language and the careful selection and juxtaposition of certain facts (a recurring motif is the attempt to make Donald Rumsfeld look stupid), it soon becomes disappointingly clear that this is yet another anti-war polemic.

Yet what makes this piece of theatre so contemptible is not this in itself, but that it aims to misinform whilst donning the cloak of impartiality. The potent weapons of the propagandist will be manifest to anybody with a GCSE in English, and What I Heard About Iraq is essentially opinion dressed up as fact. It may be able to satisfy a liberal Edinburgh audience, but its plea to be considered as art collapses under the weight of its more sinister aspirations.