Two War Play Reviews
New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich
Monologue, movement, mime and minimalist theatre describe this Bristol Old Vic production but hardly do it justice.
Considering that the characters are working class squaddies and their wives, they talk in a loquacious torrent of impassioned verse.
There is a dramatic momentum from the times at school when they played at war to their return home in bits.
Owen Sheers’ play is inspired by interviews with soldiers who served in Afghanistan; and the parallels with WW1 are obvious.
Not least their ambivalent attitude, that war is hell but you take it in your stride, until your legs are blown off and your mind is equally blown..
Pink mist is an expression for being reduced to smithereens. Blue on blue is the term for friendly fire, as when an American plane mistakes your unit for the Taliban.
The actors, all on stage throughout, perform with a raw intensity that grips you whether they are in battle or trying to cope with its grim aftermath.
Dare Devil Rides to Jarama
Diss High School
Connections between speedway and the Spanish Civil War might seem somewhat tenuous.
But Neil Gore’s play for Townsend Productions unearths a great story of political theatre.
Clem ‘Daredevil’ Beckett was a northern dirt track star politicised by conflict between fast buck promoters and riders trying to escape the dole.
He joined the Communist Party and headed for Spain to fight the Fascists, losing his life there in 1937.
Played by writer Neil Gore and David Heywood, both accomplished actors, singers and musicians, this provides pulsating entertainment.
Neil Gore has a chameleon ability to change from a shifty promoter, to a well-spoken left-wing author, to Fascist demagogue Oswald Mosley in a moment.
David Heywood has a cocky, winking charm and political ardour that makes you feel you have lost a friend when he is killed.
Imaginative ideas include: a puppet version of the wall of death, the passing of years shown like a cricket scoreboard; and the audience given rattles to show their approval, which they often did.