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Lost and Found presents

PVT. WARS

 

Writer: James McClure

 

Director / Producer: Rob Wilson

 

Assistant Director / Producer: Lorraine Hardman

 

Designer: Alice Walkling

 

Rosemary Branch Theatre

 

10 – 22 August 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

A review by Jafar Iqbal for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

  

War is bad. We know that. Which is good, as it means I won’t need to explain my views on politics (which, frankly, aren’t many). It can be argued, though, that war has been quite the inspiration for media and the arts – the stories emanating from wars through history have led to the creation of extraordinary pieces of art, from frighteningly realistic depictions of battle to studies of the war-affected human mind.

Our concern here is the latter and, in the case of PVT. Wars, we are pushed back to what is one of the most psychologically scarring conflict in modern times, the Vietnam war. Penned by James McClure, this is a one-act play centred on three soldiers recovering in hospital. Each man is there for different reasons but, for reasons explored in the production, none of them make an effort to leave despite having the freedom to.

Gately (David Newman) dedicates all of his time to fixing a radio, consoling himself with the idea that he will be fit to leave as soon as that task is completed. Silvio (Edward Fromson) is a self-titled ladies man, wandering proudly around the wards flashing nurses while waiting for his sister to take him in. And Natwick (Mark Tintner) is a rich son who doesn’t feel he belongs in the war, his frustration taken further by the bullying he is now subject to. Together, the three men spend their days in the ward, waiting for the right time to leave and get on with their lives.

With there only being three characters, the focus, inevitably, is on the three actors that have to shoulder the play. None of the men disappoint. Each of the actors is excellent in their respective roles, displaying fantastic comic timing and chemistry with their co-stars. The one-hour play seems shorter, thanks to the audience remaining engaged with the characters and the action in front of them. There is a slight downside to this though; despite the show being funny (with some brilliantly written comic sequences) and keeping the audience on its toes, the story itself is not as strong as it could have been. We understand that this is a story about three men who are struggling to accept proper society again, but I felt this wasn’t explored well enough. In making sure that the comedy aspect of the play never fades, the underlying melancholy of the play is lost somewhat.

Technically, there isn’t much to fault though. Director Rob Wilson makes good use of the space and manages to stage the play without too many props. Simple tables and chairs are enough to create the world, and it is believable immediately. Similarly, it is the simplistic nature of the sound and lighting that only aids the central performances – everything seemed to have been set up to give the three men most focus, and it succeeds in that respect.

It wouldn’t be unfair to say that this production is clearly influenced by things like One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, also exploring the idea of people staying in institutions voluntarily, but PVT. Wars tries to breathe much more comedy into its’ portrayal. Though slightly lacking in its plot development, this is still a play that entertains and amuses. Which comedies should really, no?

 

 

 

Tuesday – Sunday at 7.30pm

No shows on Monday

Tickets - £8

Rosemary Branch Theatre, 2 Shepperton Road, London N1 3DT

http://www.rosemarybranch.co.uk

Box Office: 020 7704 6665

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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