Our Boys Review
In 1993 David Grindley was working as an Assistant Stage Manager on the original production of Jonathan Lewis’ military play ‘Our Boys’. Nearly 20 years later Grindley is directing the play’s sublimely acted West End premiere.
On first viewing of the Ward 9 Bay 4 hospital set when entering the theatre, I must admit there was not much hope left for the oncoming production, it’s your very basic three wall set up. But with that said, once the five soldiers take to the stage it becomes clear that the surroundings will serve their purpose, this is a piece all about damaged and gritty characters.
The play follows a group of young men who are all in various stages of reformation as they re-build their bodies and lives after suffering a wide range of injuries while fighting on the front line. They fire close to the bone banter while also caring for each other through many a night terror. They’re a perfect unit up until the point of the arrival of potential officer Menzies. Initially wary, they soon accept him into their inner circle, including him in their boyish games ranging from looking through the personal ads for potential hook ups to a hilarious round of beer roulette based on the classic film The Deer Hunter.
Laurence Fox is the natural leader of the pack taking on the role of Joe. He has a sharp sense of humour and his comic timing is perfect. Newcomer to the stage Matthew Lewis has found what I believe to be his break-out role, don’t get me wrong Mick is still the ‘Neville’ of the group, the butt of all jokes and teased from scene to scene, but Matthew acts it to perfection. Lewis Reeves has possibly the most challenging role of the piece, playing a character who is suffering terrible motor impairment injuries, which can never be an easy task, and he takes it on gracefully.
As stand-a-lone scenes, this is a piece finely written and has great heart, but linked together, they don’t seem to have anywhere to go. However the portrayal of this brotherhood as they get closer to their long term goal of either going back to the front line, returning home or just simply leaving intact is strong, believable and very dark. Without wanting to give anything a way, by the end you’ll definitely be on the edge of your seat. One member of the audience couldn’t actually face the darker side of the play, returning and leaving throughout the final 15 minutes
It’s a strong reminder of what we put our boys through on the front line, and the sacrifices they make on our behalf.
Our Boys Review by John Webb Carter
Saturday 13th October 2012