REGENERATION: adapted by Nicholas Wright.
Tkts 0115 989 5555 www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk.
Runs: 2h 30m: one interval: till 18th October.
Performance times: 7.30pm, matinees 2.00pm Wed and 2.30pm Sat.
Review: Alan Geary: 14th October 2014.
Hugely rewarding and enriching at many levels.
This stage adaptation of Pat Barker’s award-winning Regeneration trilogy is a success in its own right. And it’s not simply a matter of Nicholas Wright’s text, which is outstanding; director Simon Godwin has also come up with a first-rate production in terms of acting, set and much else.
It’s a seamless interweaving of fact and fiction. During the Great War, at Craiglockhart War Hospital near Edinburgh, Captain Rivers, a clinical psychiatrist/psychologist, is treating officers suffering from shell-shock. These include now famous war poets Siegfried Sassoon, who actually has nothing wrong with him, and Wilfred Owen.
The action opens with Sassoon’s “Soldier’s Declaration” against the immorality of continuing what has become an unjust and senseless conflict.
Since we’re mainly concerned with the classically educated officer class, and many of the principals are poets, the often mordantly witty text is a joy to listen to. And there are the themes of class, and the contradictions involved between patriotism and the morality of war – not one figure in the play is a pacifist.
There are other tensions: between the Rivers brand of psychoanalysis and that of the, as yet untranslated, Dr Freud for instance. And the homo-erotic bond between Rivers, Sassoon and Owen and its complex relationship with the loving comradeship of men fighting a war is explored implicitly and explicitly.
Acting from the whole cast, is strong. Rivers, the real protagonist, who ironically enough has a stammer, is caught by Stephen Boxer in a masterly performance. Sassoon, attractive and patrician, is admirably done by Tim Dulap; as is Owen, played by Garmon Rhys, who’s made to look remarkably like the real historical figure. Billy Prior from Bradford, a fictional working-class officer up from the ranks, is a superb Jack Monaghan.
A multi-locational set designed to suggest an austere institutional atmosphere as well as facilitating fuss-free scene changing is used almost throughout. Only at the very end, after the Armistice, does it opens out to become the Chelsea Physic Garden where Rivers and Sassoon, in an intensely moving episode, sit on a bench trying to make sense of it all.
This is a memorable production, hugely rewarding and enriching at many levels.
Captain Rivers: Stephen Boxer.
Robert Graves: Christopher Brandon.
Anderson/Yealland: Simon Coates.
Siegried Sassoon: Tim Delap.
Campbell: Joshua Higgott.
Billy Prior/Evans: Jack Monaghan.
Cullen/Willard/Burns: David Morley Hale.
Wilfred Owen: Garmon Rhys.
Sister Rogers: Lindy Whiteford.
Nurse: Emma Tugman.
Orderly 1: Daniel Cech-Lucas.
Orderly 2: Oliver Malam.
Director: Simon Godwin.
Designer: Alex Eales.
Lighting Designer: Lee Curran.
Sound Designer: George Dennis.
Music: Stuart Earl.