The Touching Play in Australia

The Touching Play in Australia

A good play is a real pure way of touching that deeper reality beneath the lives of people. The Adelaide Repertory Theatre brought the Australian premiere of Our Boys to Adelaide, a heart-warming and hilarious play which follows five young soldiers recovering from the line of duty.

At the Adelaide Repertory Theatre, 53 Angas St Adelaide SA, 5000, Our Boys play directed by Dave Simms composed of the cast;

  • Patrick Marlin
  • Lee Cook
  • Leighton Vogt
  • James Edwards
  • Nick Duddy
  • Adam Tuominen

The Season had a couple of sessions; Thursday 31st Aug 2017 at 8 pm, Fri 1st Sept 2017at 8 pm, Sat 2nd Sept 2017 at 8 pm, Wed 6th Sept 2017 at 8 pm, Thursday 7th Sept 2017 at 8 pm, Fri 8th Sept 2017 at 8 pm, Sat 9th Sept 2017 at 2 pm and Sat 9th Sept 2017 at 8 pm. Adult tickets went for $22 while Concession tickets were $17.

August 31st, 2017 was the opening night at the Arts Theatre, with Soldier On being on a charity night on Friday 1st of September. The organization supports Aussie women and men psychologically or physically impacted by their service.

Set in the 1984 spring and during the London Hyde Park bombing and the trouble in Northern Ireland, this dramatic play captures extremely tender and funny moments as six young, and handsome soldiers are recovering in a claustrophobic military hospital.

Five of the six soldiers kill nothing but time discussing their diagnoses and injuries. The ease of this type of routine is challenged with a young officer’s arrival in their ward, bringing with him accusations of betrayal and misconduct. Jonathan’s play has won awards such as The Writers’ Guild Award for Best New Fringe.

It is where the action kicks off; director Dave Simms, asserting that the true meaning of loyalty should be learned by the lads quoting, “Through all the wise-cracking one thing becomes clear for our boys, you don’t do it for Queen and Country, and you do it for your mates.” Though a comical play, Our Boys is commentary about the wounded soldiers’ Army’s neglect, and camaraderie and the strong friendship allowing these heroes to move forward.

Tara Nash spoke about the production with the director Dave Simms who in response said, “A different thing happens to each of the six of them by the end of the story, so it’s very cleverly done. But each of the boys in the story I guess is a very well-drawn out, real person. So you do get the sense that they really must be based on real people.”

Director Dave Simms has in this Australian premiere done a magnificent job. The cast is excellent without exception as below;

  1. Tuominen as Joe

The pseudo-leader of the ward who is fast speaking. He portrays great control alternating between protector and prankster with the perfect balance of mateship and compassion towards his fellow soldiers.

  • Vogt as Keith

He acts embodying the angst of someone feeling that his physical symptoms are considered as psychosomatic by the medical profession. He possesses a complex character, well portraying with commitment and nuance to each of his wildly varying emotions.

  • Marlin as Ian

Playing the most severely injured among the group is his challenge. He is initially unable to communicate coherently but makes steady and slow progress learning to walk and talk again. Marlin is capturing the mental anguish of every recovery stage.

  • Edwards to great effect as Parry uses comic timing

He delivers his comebacks and quips with incisiveness betraying his underlying insecurities.

  • Duddy’s portrayal of Mick

It is equally amusing, expounding his character’s hankering and naivety to belong, while still fully utilizing the obvious comic relief provided by his infirmity.

However, Cook mostly impresses as ‘Rupert’ or the Officer, named so for prejudice and suspicion of his position and class. This role could have been caricaturesque easily if not played with such care and subtlety. As he is persisting in his attempts to be one of the lads, the audience gets a real sense of his inner conflict. His prissy mannerisms and his Queen’s English, as well as his ailment, alienates him from those injured on duty, but one can’t help warming to him as he joins in with the games and banter the group draw on to the boredom of hospital existence alleviation.

Simms pays excellent attention to detail from supporting techno music, well-selected background TV and radio segments, to ensure the accents are consistent and authentic. It is an accurate slice of 80’s Britain representation of and details like the regular monitors beeping in a quiet night scene on the ward is evident of the overall care taken in this production.

A small criticism is there is nevertheless an edginess or darkness to some scenes which indicate exact frustrations, although underexplored in writing. Joe’s concluding smothered scene of despair and fury is far too short in contrast to the extended humor of the piece, seeming a missed opportunity bringing home the real suffering of the brave soldiers represented. This Australian Premiere was, therefore, a great production which one should not have missed.

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