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The Observatory

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Young theatre company Snuff Box shows great promise with the premiere of Daniel Foxsmith’s debut play, developed at East 15 Acting School under the mentorship of Royal Court dramatist April de Angelis.

With echoes of previous Fringe hit Black Watch, uniformed soldiers fight for their individual morality in an unjust desert war machine. Finch gets trigger-happy at a checkpoint and a local scientist is killed. The brutal military investigation is a charade - higher powers have pre-determined that Finch must be sacrificed as a scapegoat. But should he?

As we learn more about Finch through a series of battlefield flashbacks, it becomes evident that he should never have been deployed at the time of the incident. Is he too blame? Or is the army to blame for putting him in a compromised position in the first place?

Foxsmith isn’t scared of asking thorny questions - about the military’s inability to take care of its own, about the dangers of one-size-fits-all justice - or tackling large-cast dramas, something to be encouraged in a young playwright. Some of the themes are tenuous – why the fatherhood situations of Finch, his interrogator and victim are important is never really clarified – but with a bit more dramaturgical development, this could become an important piece.


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