Good theatre can entertain or make you think. Really good theatre does both. Sean Devine’s Except in the Unlikely Event of War is really good theatre.
Once again proving himself as a master of political theatre, Vancouver playwright Sean Devine abandons the American politics of his 2011 hit Re:union to take on the politics of fear and, by association, the Harper government in Except in the Unlikely Event of War.
Loosely based on the 1967 bestseller “Report From Iron Mountain” which told of a secret government think tank that concluded war was necessary for governments to stay in power, Devine uses the book, which would later be revealed as a satirical hoax, as a basis to weave his own complex satire. In a trio of stories, Devine flits between the government think tank, a radio show host who discovers a Chinese submarine has arrived at the shores of the Arctic and a meta-theatrical self-awareness in which the actors rehearse the show itself.
And while it all may sound a little too complicated, thankfully Devine is skilled enough to structure his play into largely logical chunks. But even when the story devolves as it jumps incessantly between ideas, Devine is the first to acknowledge its complexity during some very funny scenes where his actors acknowledge their own confusion.