DER SCROGGY’S WAR
by Howard Brenton.
Shakespeare’s Globe 21 New Globe Walk Bankside SE1 9DT In rep to 10 October 2014.
7.30pm 26, 29 Sept, 3, 6, 10 Oct.
2pm 27 Sept, 4 Oct.
Captioned: 4 Oct.
Runs 2hr 25min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7401 9919/0871 297 0749 (booking fee).
Review: Carole Woddis 18 September.
An unsung hero now ably sung.
Howard Brenton has such a way now with popular plays on big subjects. One of his recent successes in this theatre, Anne Boleyn, combined raciness with a radical re-evaluation of Boleyn’s role in the creation of the King James’ Bible.
Now he’s done something similar with Harold Gillies, the Army surgeon whose work remaking the faces of horrifically disfigured soldiers and airmen helped pave the way for what we know today as plastic surgery.
For a new generation of audiences, which the Globe so often attracts, the history of Gillies and his pioneering work must come as a shock. John Dove’s lively production goes out of its way brilliantly, too, to bring the realities of his work home with the descriptions of the injuries suffered by the young men from gas and shrapnel spoken, eyeball to eyeball, from right in the middle of the audience, on the Globe’s thrust stage. You can’t mistake the intimacy of the moment.
Even if parts of Dr Scroggy’s War carry, in this centenary year, rather too familiar echoes – a mix of BlackAdder, Downtonish Edwardiana and < i>The Crimson Field with its ingénue VADs – Brenton turns cliché into something more unexpected by the introduction of the phantom figure of Dr Scroggy – Gillies’ Scottish alter ego, created to help cheer up his patients with forbidden levity – and a quixotic vein of irony. At one point, Jack Twigg, Brenton’s young working class officer hero turns to the audience and says, `You know what’s going to happen now. I’m going to lose my face.’
It cuts right through any faux theatricality and creates a distancing effect in a story that despite its military critique, sometimes veers towards sentimentality and also contains disconcertingly un-Brenton like salutes to English patriotism (given peculiar resonance in this Referendum week) and ideas of glory and fighting for your country. Ultimately, even this unexpected sentiment undergoes re-assessment in the light of Twigg’s true ancestry.
Dr Scroggy’s War too is blessed with James Garnon, Brenton’s tourette-suffering James VI in Anne Boleyn, whose Gillies and Scroggy stirringly convey all the eccentricity and deep humanity of this most remarkable unsung hero of WW1.
The Hon. Penelope Wedgewood: Catherine Bailey.
Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig: Sam Cox.
Mr Twigg: Patrick Driver.
Jack Twigg: Will Featherstone.
Harold Gillies/Doctor Scroggy: James Garnon.
Tilly Hope: Daisy Hughes.
Lord Ralph Dulwich: Joe Jameson.
Corporal Clancy/Lieutenant Jones: Tom Kanji.
Sir William Arbuthnot-Lane: Christopher Logan.
Corporal Fergal O’Hannagan: William Mannering.
Megan Jones: Holly Morgan.
Catherine Black: Rhiannon Oliver.
Lieutenant Machan/Private Edwards: Keith Ramsay.
Field Marshall Sir John French: Paul Rider.
Mrs Twigg/Queen Mary: Katy Stephens.
Marshall Joffre/Lieutenant Hardy: Dickon Tyrrell.
Private Lamacraft: Patrick Holt.
Private Pearse: Joel Wood.
Cello: Harry Napier
Trumpet/Natural Trumpet/Cornett: Richard Thomas
Director: John Dove.
Designer: Michael Taylor.
Composer: William Lyons.
Musical Director: Phil Hopkins.
Choreographer: Siân Williams.
Fight director: Terry King.
Globe Associate – Movement: Glynn MacDonald.
Voice/Dialect: Martin McKellan.
Assistant director: Josh Roche.
World premiere of Dr Scroggy’s War at Shakespeare Globe Southwark London 12 September 2014.