Haydn Radford -A freelance writer born in Adelaide, who loves living here. I write about movies, theatre, entertainment, literary and art events. I am happy to promote & review your events. www.weekendnotes.com/profile/121822
Jonathan Lewis' play is based on his own brief experience as an army scholar in a military hospital with the same condition suffered by the character, officer-in-training, Oliver Menzies (Lee Cook). Lewis' time in the ward among patients exposed him to the ordeals, dreariness and intimidation young soldiers experienced. His play concentrates on the camaraderie and the humour shared between the soldiers as well as their sense of despair when their bleak prospects become a possible reality should they be unable to continue their service in the army.
The cast: In white shirt is Patrick, then clockwise is Lee, Nick, Adam, James and Leighton.
The play is set in 1984, with a small group of soldiers, Joe (Adam Tuominen), Keith (Leighton Vogt), Ian (Patrick Marlin), Parry (James Edwards), Mick (Nick Duddy), are experiencing long-term periods of recovery due to line-of-duty injuries or random injuries from the Falklands and Northern Ireland conflicts, as was Lewis. What opens as a very jovial camaraderie, which the audience clearly enjoys, develops into a tense atmosphere due to the arrival of another patient, who is an officer-in-training, Oliver Menzies (POM) (Lee Cook).
Tensions emerge as Menzies experiences harsh verbal abuse thinly disguised as humorous remarks. Menzies is suffering from an infected tract in his buttocks, which arouses suspicion and hostility from the other patients. He repeatedly needs to clear the ward leaving the others to suffer from his creating an obnoxious aroma. This naturally fuels the others to mock his condition, which creates much laughter from the audience.
Director, Dave Simms, makes sure the humour never flags. My lips are sealed as I don't wish to spoil the entertainment, but if you are familiar with the movie Deer Hunter, you will appreciate the roulette game the six play to alleviate their boredom. Please excuse the cliché, but here is further proof boys will be boys.
The six sneak several cans of beer to celebrate a birthday and play their game of "beer hunter." They find themselves on charges of misconduct, which results someone spilling the beans to receive a lesser punishment. Whereas in the past they have looked out for each other, it seems their loyalties are flawed due to an act of betrayal. The play displays the instinctive distrust these soldiers have for the officer-in-training. "You don't do it for Queen or Country" one soldier declares, "You do it for your mates." Their contempt for high military ideals is clearly demonstrated.
Dave Simms has created a realistic insight in his accurate portrayal of Britain in the 1980's with the play's setting of background television and radio segments and techo music.
This production is well worth seeing as it is as relevant today as when Lewis wrote it.
The acting by the six performers is outstanding as they are very convincing as the complex characters during their humorous exchanges and the tense performances in the more gripping scenes depicting the frustrations and suffering these young servicemen are experiencing. As good as it is, the play could have reflected with more accuracy how governments and politicians neglect the suffering of disabled servicemen whose needs are too often ignored.