by Jeremy James.
Jermyn Street Theatre to 26 March
16b Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6ST to 26 March 2016.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 3.30pm/
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7287 2875.
Review: William Russell 4 March.
War or Peace? A comedy of errors.
This strange play is based on a tale related to Jeremy James by a jobbing Hungarian artist, Sandor Teleki, who confided to him that he and some other Hungarian painters had formed a group called Miracle Stags which had gone to Sarajevo in 1914 to assassinate the Archduke Ferdinand.
They were pipped at the post by Gavrilo Princip of the Serbian Black Hand and the result was the Great War. Had Miracle Stags succeeded that war would not have happened, he claimed.
That is as may be, and Mr James offers no proof for Teleki’s contention in this peculiar mish mash of comedy, daft plotters, sinister torturers and a Cotswold based psychotherapist hypnotising the ancient Teleki some time in the late sixties or early seventies to discover what happened within his group all those years ago.
The play has its moments, but they are due largely to the players – Emma Mulkern as Medve, for instance, a girl who dresses like a man but loves the young Sandor, who is not all that interested in her, has a few quite moving moments when finally she reveals that she is not, as one had assumed, Sapphic but all woman and a woman in love. Alexander Nash and Mark Joseph make a nice double act – a comic one which is not really funny if you think about it – as the leaders of the equally inept Black Hand.
On the evidence there is no chance of the four young artists ever killing anybody although Mr James seems to think they were the more professional plotters. Admittedly the Black Hand was hardly efficient and the assassination was an accident of fate – the Archduke’s driver made a foolish mistake, took a wrong turning, stalled the car and Princip just happened to be there. Mr James has spent his retirement researching the lives of the participants, their characters and motivations and imagining the dialogue they may well have used. There is a story to be told, but sadly this is not the way to tell it. However, the cast do a sterling job, Tony Wredden as the aged Sandor is nicely decrepit and suitably appalled as the therapist discovers the truth about what happened to the group, while Jesse DeCoste is dashing as his younger rather stupid self. Director Andrew Shepherd keeps things moving, but how he kept a straight face is another matter altogether. As for the handsome set, it reveals that none of the artists could paint.
Margit: Angela Dixon.
Sandor: Tony Wredden.
Young Sandor: Jesse De Coste.
Ede: Alexander Sturt.
Tibor: Robert Wilde.
Medve: Emma Mulkern.
Tankosic: Mark Joseph.
Apis: Alexander North.
Director: Andrew Shepherd.
Designer: Zahra Mansouri.
Lighting Designer: Julian McCready.
Composer & Sound Designer: Dimitri Scarlato.
Costume Design Associates: Michelle Bristow, Devon Opp.
Voice Coach: Viktoria Lengyel-Rheinfuss.