by William Ivory.
Lakeside Arts Centre: Tkts 0115 846 7777 www.lakesidearts.org.uk
Runs: 2h 35m: one interval: till 22nd May.
Performance times: 8.00pm, matinees 2.00pm 15th and 19th May.
Audio described 8.00pm 19th, Signed performance 18th, Post-show discussion 12th and 19th (8.00pm).
Review: Alan Geary: 7 May, 2010.
Part 2 – and good going.
The second leg of a compelling trilogy, this stands up brilliantly as a self-contained play.
Although it’s part two of the trilogy begun with The Retirement of Tom Stevens this stands up brilliantly as a self-contained play. David, who cropped up in Tom Stevens, is again splendidly played by Tim Dantay, recently seen in A Day in the Death of Joe Egg down the road at Nottingham Playhouse.
Alongside the straightforward surface narrative – an old man in a nursing home is being visited by his male carer – writer William Ivory gives us various levels of complex and skilfully intertwined revelation. The Lincs/Notts dimension isn’t an optional bolt-on; it’s integral to the play.
Jimmy (Paul Greenwood) who was a tail-end Charlie on a WWII bomber, has unresolved issues; and from the start it’s obvious that David is also carrying problems around with him – there seems to have been some kind of psychological breakdown.
The mysterious borderlands between homo-eroticism and wartime comradeship and bonding are explored. And there’s a strong religious theme: we get the paradox of belief in a benevolent deity in the context of a suffering universe; and one of the men is the unwitting agent of God’s grace to the other. Yet it’s all done with gritty realism and black humour.
Greenwood’s Jimmy is wicked and seething; he’s an ordinary man lumbered with sexuality in a failed body. There’s poetry in his reveries, not only when he quotes from John Gillespie Magee’s High Flight, but there’s pragmatism as well: “You can get away with f***ing murder when you’re my age”, he says.
Sound and lighting effects are powerful. A depressingly realistic and cluttered room in a Formica-fixated nursing home converts to the inside of a bomber during the disastrous Nuremburg Raid of 1944: the fan on the ceiling becomes a propeller; and – a marvellous touch – a round window in the door becomes the bomber’s moon.
Post-break it’s unnecessarily long, but a miraculously bitter-sweet ending is worth the wait.
Like Tom Stevens, this is directed by Matt Aston. A lot of people will be looking forward to the third leg of the trilogy.
David: Tim Dantay.
Jimmy: Paul Greenwood.
Director: Matt Aston.
Designer: Laura McEwen.
Lighting: James Farncombe.
Sound: Damian Caldwell.