A Pacifist’s Guide To The War On Cancer, Theatre Review. Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

A Pacifist’s Guide To The War On Cancer. Photograph by Mark Douet.

Cast: Eva Alexander, Bryony Kimmings, Gemma Storr, Lottie Vallis, Lara Veitch, Elexi Walker.

There is always going to be an emotional stance when it comes to Cancer, we are all either directly or indirectly affected by this disease, almost impossible to not know someone who has been changed by the feeling of having something alien inside them, influenced in their thinking or who has in modern world sense, fought it. It is that very sense of the phrase fought that is the emotive part for some, and for Bryony Kimmings it is a word that doesn’t sit right, it implies perhaps fighting, war, taking up arms in a body of troubles and ultimately in a war, nobody wins, there are only casualties.

A Pacifist’s Guide To The War On Cancer isn’t about conceding defeat, or being seen as a conscientious objector, there are no sidelines after all in this particular assault on the human body, but as one that looks at the way to deal with the disease differently, after all we all deal with injuries, problems and time on this Earth differently. So why should there be one hard fast rule to deal with the way the body is attacked, why should the word brave be said with a lop sided face that is not helpful to many who are dealing, brave yes indeed people are when they forced to take on the image of mortality, but perhaps as Bryony Kimmings makes you aware of during the show, is that for some, being brave is not what it is all about.

Through interviews, the interpretation of music and imagery and with one woman in particular in mind, the utterly engaging and non-actor in the show, Lara Veitch, Bryony Kimmings shows that a Pacifist’s way is not to be derided but arguably seen as another way to deal with the disease. That being told in a Doctor’s surgery that a part of you has got to come off or come out and with no consultation, no conversation, no one to one input from the patient, which suggests for a single minute that the patient, the human being, might want to do something else.

A Pacifist’s Guide To The War On Cancer is moving, provoking, passionate and yet is one that states simply that being brave is not the only picture that people should see, that you must never stop seeing your friend, your loved one or even possibly yourself, as nothing less than a human being, that it is O.K. to cry, to throw things, to sometimes be alone, to think; this is not a performance about objecting, it is just another way to accept.

Ian D. Hall