Posts Tagged ‘Cian Barry’

I have a suspicion we benefitted from waiting until half-way through the run of this. There is extraordinary chemistry between the actors which can only have come from having performed it around 60 times; they are completely believable in their characters and their relationships.

Jonathan Lewis’ play is set in a military hospital in 1984. We’ve yet to send ‘our boys’ to The Gulf, but we have sent them to The Falklands and ‘the troubles’ in Northern Ireland are ongoing. The six patients have a range of injuries and illnesses, most but not all obtained in combat. The banter at first hides the true pain and emotional turmoil. The introduction of a ‘potential officer’ adds a frisson. In the second half it gets darker as one dies, three are discharged and one returns.

It’s a fine set of performances by six young actors with not a lot of stage experience between them. I was particularly impressed by Lewis Reeves who has to make the biggest transformation, Cian Barry whose role is an emotional roller-coaster and Matthew Lewis who is the butt of many of the jokes. The spin on the Russian roulette sequence from The Deer Hunter didn’t seem like acting at all. David Grindley, who did such a good job with Journey’s End, seems to have an affinity with military subject matter and his staging, on Jonathan Fensom’s hyper-realistic set, is very good indeed.

The black humour (and it is very funny) lulls you into a false sense of security so when it turns you’re really feeling for ‘our boys’. The length of time they seem to spend in hospital seem a bit implausible, but maybe that’s what it was like 28 years ago. It’s better play than I remember the original Donmar production in 1993 being and though I was somewhat sceptical that a West End revival was wise, I will eat my words, It’s good to have stuff like this bringing in Harry Potter and Dr Who fans (though they were a bit irritating in the talking and sweet rustling department at times on Friday evening!).

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