THEATRE REVIEW: Our Boys at the Duchess Theatre

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Posted by The Art Stop on Friday 5th of October 2012

Month upon month, year upon year, we send out brave soldiers to fight for our country. And fight for us, they do. But sometimes they suffer for their strength...

Written from his own experience of being in the army, Jonathan Lewis' award-winning play Our Boys, depicts the effects of war on five terribly young and now, wounded soldiers. The production stars some superbly famous and talented faces (Matthew Lewis of Harry Potter, Laurence Fox of Becoming Jane and Arthur Darvill of Doctor Who), this is a real, raw look at what our men and women go through after being relieved of duty thanks to injury.

NB. It's probably best to bring tissues!

The plot

As these five wounded soldiers make the best of their time together on the troops' ward - they surround themselves with boyish banter, talk of voluptuous women, games of pool and the hope of release back into the field. One of them has been left with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Joe), two are wheel-chair bound (Mickey and Parry), one survived a coma but can no longer walk or completely control his facial muscles (Ian) and another is slowly losing feeling in his left leg but is desperate not to have it amputated (Keith).

New patient arrival, Potential Officer Menzies (Jolyon Coy), sends the boys into a spin with his posh speech and 'PO' rank. They assume he will be different and won't fit in, but a few jokes and beers later, he moves towards becoming one of the boys.

But every day on this ward is a challenge and as the lads tackle through their issues, we realise these life events are something they may never get over.

The verdict

Lewis' lines are terrifically funny, crude and, at times, incredibly heart-breaking and all six actors pour out their individual character emotion as though they have been them all their lives.

Of course, the subject is sensitive but the boys do well in their raw, on-edge performances. Just as soon as you lose yourself laughing at the one liners, you're hit with the reality and pain of their situation. Laurence Fox as the PTSD-suffering Joe steadily bubbles throughout the two-hour production, while Matt Lewis' lovable, if slightly goofy character Mickey, just drives home how young and innocent these boys really are.

However, the stand-out performance goes to the wonderful Lewis Reeves who plays wheel-chair bound Ian, wh also suffers from a speech impediment thanks to his condition. He's a man who's trapped in a body that no longer functions and you'll feel every bit of his frustration.

You'll laugh, you'll cry and you'll find Our Boys thought-provoking beyond words. This is a must-see play.

Our Boys is running now at the Duchess Theatre until the 15 December.

Photo credit: Geraint Lewis


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