Palace of the End

Palace of the End

Ongoing Iraq drama with real-life characters

Four years ago, the Fringe was shaking with Iraq, and one of the best-received productions was playwright Judith Thompson’s My Pyramids, a hard-hitting speculative monologue from the point of view of Private Lynndie England. While Fringe fads might have moved on, Thompson, like a ticking conscience, refuses to let theatre audiences off the hook easily.

‘I am still compelled to create theatre out of the war in Iraq,’ she says, ‘because that catastrophe is something we are all playing a part in and theatre gives us an opportunity to really consider our roles.’

Palace at the End, which comes to Edinburgh from a hugely acclaimed run at Manchester’s Royal Exchange, has grown out of My Pyramids, and England’s monologue forms the first third; but she’s now accompanied on stage by two other key characters from that period: Dr David Kelly, imagined in the 20 minutes leading up to his death, and Iraqi mother and political leader Nehrjas Al Saffarh.

‘Engaging with these events can provide catharsis,’ says Thompson. ‘It’s an articulation of the chaotic soup of guilt, anger, ignorance, despair and hope that roils around in so many of us.’

Traverse Theatre, 228 1404, 9–30 Aug (not 10, 17, 24), times vary, £16–£18 (£11–£12). Preview 8 Aug, £11 (£5).

Palace of the End

  • 4 stars

A female soldier accused of prisoner abuse, a disgraced British UN weapons inspector, a persecuted Iraqi woman - each wrestle with the truth in this hard-hitting play. ***** (Guardian);**** (Times).By Judith Thompson.

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