Good Morning, Alamo!
Mark Giesser writes and directs this ambitious and at times slightly confused account of the famous Battle of the Alamo.
The form for which Giesser has opted is appropriate for such a sprawling narrative; he has focussed on individual stories from unusual perspectives includes moments of satire during which he mocks various events surrounding the battle and draws on the mythologized portrayals of famous characters such as Davy Crockett, William B Travis, Jim Bowie and General Santa Anna.
In the programme blurb, Giesser describes the conflicting opinions surrounding versions of events; to Americans the Alamo is a great symbol of martyrdom. To the Mexicans, it is an example of American colonialism stamping through land which they believed to be rightfully theirs.
It is these diverse opinions that Giesser seeks to illustrate through the 2-hour-long production, through the eyes of Charlotte Vernon (Zoë Teverson), an English watercolour painter from Surrey, and Harry Birchfield (Steven Clarke), a cockney turned Texian from Whitechapel London who finds himself renamed Gunner Birchfield and drawn into the Alamo’s fight for independence. Teverson and Clarke are both reasonably engaging, but their characters feel unduly forced into the plot, which drags during longwinded descriptions of events.
What stands out is the rest of the company. Richard Emerson, Riona O’Connor and James Palmer are wonderful bursts of interest; their portrayal of the Texan rebellion demands being drawn up is a fast-paced, funny account which sends up the ridiculous decisions made.
Giesser has gone for an Oh! What a Lovely War style in which snippets of songs are used, actors take on ridiculous caricatures and we are presented the story in a way which asks us to question the events. This is a good route to take, but not if executed without the same amount of improvisation and flexibility, and this production, which shows promise, needs reconsidering in terms of structure and character in order to allow this.
Reviewer: Anna Jones