Collateral Damage

Aug 24 2016 | By More

★★★☆☆  Purposeful

The Royal Scots Club (Venue 241) 22-27 Aug 2016
Review by Hugh Simpson

Short but decidedly not sweet, Collateral Damage is sharp and spiky.

Revived from their entry in this year’s SCDA One-Act Festival, the Makars’ production of Tariq Ali, Howard Brenton and Andy de la Tour’s piece of political reportage combined with domestic drama has considerable force.

Chester Parker and Jana Doughty. Photo Martin Burnel

Chester Parker and Jana Doughty. Photo Martin Burnell

Written in 1999 as a response to the NATO bombing campaign during the war in Kosovo, the concerns of the play do seem to anticipate many events that have taken place since.

Daniel and Leonie are preparing for his 50th birthday party, seemingly comfortable in their North London home. However, differences of opinion over the war reveal cracks in their relationship, with the political and personal inextricably intertwined.

There is an air of political points-scoring that is not entirely dissipated by the way references to the end of the Cold War and to the ‘New World Order’ now seeming like quaint historicisms. Many of the moral problems, conversely, are frighteningly contemporary. Its concern with the misuse of language exemplified by the play’s title – a reference to the unintended slaughter of civilians – is always relevant.

Despite the unavoidable air of a work designed by committee, there is plenty of interest, and Chester Parker (Daniel) and Jana Doughty (Leonie) set about things with considerable vigour. Parker’s wounded self-absorption and Doughty’s spiteful resentment spark off each other effectively. The climax is not handled quite as well as it might be, but overall Martin Burnell’s direction helps build tension over the play’s short running time.

Both characters are given justification for their beliefs and actions, meaning they can elicit some sympathy, even if ultimately appearing utterly reprehensible. In the end, this is more of a squib than a fully-formed play, but is certainly attacked with some purpose.

Running time: 30 minutes
The Royal Scots Club (Venue 241), 29-31 Abercromby Place, EH3 6QE
Monday 22 – Saturday 27 August 2016
Daily at 6.30 pm
Book tickets on the EdFringe website:
Company website:
Facebook: edinburghmakars

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