Review: Uncle Vanya at the Vaudeville
Review: Being part of The Effect set and Billie Piper and Jonjo O'Neill's hidden talents

Review: Our Boys and why some plays need updating

AN9679472Our+Boys+at+The+DuBy all accounts Our Boys is a very good play. It made me laugh (until my face hurt at one point) but it also has a serious side. It is very well acted, nicely staged etc but I couldn't help thinking that there was an opportunity missed.

Like Yes, Prime Minister, which seems to be taking up permanent residence at Trafalgar Studios, it could do with updating.

It is set in an army hospital in the early 1990s. The humour is engineered through the banter and japes of the patients whose routine is upset when a POM (potential officer material) is put on the ward. The serious story underneath is how the ordinary soldier is treated particularly those who are injured and traumatised.

The problem is not necessarily lack of relevance but is one of reference points. Talk among the soldiers is of the Falkland's war, Northern Ireland and the IRA bombing campaign in England. They are events that live in the memory of those, like myself, of a certain generation but probably not the Harry Potter fans who were there to see Neville Longbottom actor Matthew Lewis.

How much more relevant it would have been to have had the soldiers talk of experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. It would have made the play punchier, more pertinent and contemporary.

Yes, Prime Minister is, however, a much worse example. When I saw it in the Summer it just felt dusty and dated and of its time, an opportunity to up date and have tremendous fun with contemporary politics missed.

The flip side to this is the National Theatre's This House. It is a political play set around the minority British government of the 70s. It works because it is essentially about the trials and tribulations of coalition government and the parallels with today's government are fascinating and revealing.

Our Boys is far from being a bad play indeed is genuinely entertaining and enjoyable but moving the action forward by 20 years, give or take, would have just given it that extra edge. It runs at the Duchess Theatre until December 15 and is worth a look for the laughs alone.

RS/BW 6DS

Going to have to go for an easy Harry Potter connection courtesy of Matthew Lewis who played Neville alongside Michael Gambon who played Dumbledore but whom also played Mr W's dad in Brideshead Revisited.

 

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