Why Do You Stand There in the Rain?

Peter Arnott

Pepperdine University (Malibu)

C

From 01 August 2012 to 11 August 2012

Rating: *****

Review by Graeme Strachan

Opening with a stage filled with protesters sitting, arms-linked and singing gently, it could be simple to mistake that Pepperdine University's play at this year's Fringe Festival is a depiction of the Occupy movement.

However this is not the case, instead we are treated to a history of the events building up toward and resulting from the 1932 occupation of Washington DC by the downtrodden American Veterans of The Great War, denied their Bonus payments and out of work during the great recession. The part-musical performance follows the troops from their first days of basic training, through the constant drilling, through to the battlefields of France and the listless poverty which followed for so many.

The show is a touching tribute to the peaceful humanity of a people put in terrible strife, with no need to gloss over the harsh realities of the time, including the heartbreaking naivety of the troops and bigoted racism of many. Many links are made between the events the and the recent recession, and although the occupy movements share many facets these are underplayed and left to be plainly evident to the audience rather than hammered home with any subtlety.

The cast are universally superb, breaking into eloquent song one moment only to slip silently into quiet conversation that kept the audience rapt throughout.

A truly fine production and a fascinating piece of new theatre, well worth it's place in the best shows of this year's Fringe Festival.