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A very powerful vehicle, well-performed by a cast of very mixed ages, which certainly worked for me.  The younger and more mature actors integrated well, and really gave me the feel of the career marine who was conditioned to do exactly as he was told, creating the basis for the play.

The set, which was stark but very suitable for the subject matter, incorporating different levels to suggest the different settings for the scenes, was minimal, but worked well.

The music was stirring and well-chosen, setting the scene very well.

I was particularly impressed by Unami Tenga who played Lance Corporal Dawson, one of the accused men, he kept his character the whole way through, and didn’t veer from his military bearing.  An excellent portrayal.

Daniel Farmer-Patel played Private Downey, the other accused man, and I liked the way there were occasional covert glances to his officer to see how he should react, again a very good portrayal.

Of the older cast Tim Hayden gave us a remarkable insight into Captain Markinson, a man whose conscience stirred him with regard to the case, the two accused, and the lies his officer tried to make him party to.  The scene when he was writing his letter to Santiago’s parents was poignant, leading to him committing suicide, which again was a strong effective scene.  Nice one Tim!

Dave Corbett as Colonel Jessup, gave us a real insight into how an older career soldier was prepared to lie and get those around him to lie.  His loss of control at certain places, and particularly in the courtroom, were very well accomplished, showing that even someone with great control over their emotions can be brought down.  Again a stirring performance, the best that we have seen him do to date.

I loved Carl Connelly as Lieutenant Kaffee.  The fact that at a comparatively young age he could hold the stage, and elicit such varying responses from those around him, is testament to someone who took direction well, but also got under the skin of his character.  Extremely accomplished, and very well performed.

Kate Johnson turned in a sympathetic portrayal as Lieutenant Commander Galloway, a catalyst in the defence of the accused, helping Kaffee to make decisions he might not have done, and again a really good characterisation.

Lieutenant Ross the prosecutor, was played by Luke Murphy, in a completely different type of role for him, he stepped up to the plate and got the essence of the man who wanted to try and manipulate the court, but who in the end had to go with what fell his way.  A very good progression Luke.

Nico Bamford played Lieutenant Weinberg with an almost world-weary approach, which contrasted well with the devil-may-care attitude of Kaffee – a good solid portrayal, and one which I enjoyed.

Andy Sizmur gave Lieutenant Kendrick lots of religious zeal, which created a good character, as a foil to Markinson and Jessop.  Again a well-studied interpretation.

A very late addition to the cast and the youngest,  Harrison Watson, again proved that he can adapt well to the environment of diverse plays and characters, he got the parade ground replies well, but also showed a more human side when giving his evidence – well done Harrison.

Dave Hillman, Ian Gutteridge, Luigi Muscella, Ben Jaggers, Jake Hayden and Jenny McDonald took smaller parts, all creating believable characters.

The courtroom scene built well, from the point where there seemed little hope for Dawson and Downey, to the revelation of the lies Jessop had maintained both personally, and from his staff – the altercation between him, Kaffee and Ross were excellent, bringing the whole trial to a very satisfactory conclusion for us the audience, but perhaps not for Dawson and Downey.

Costumes were good, and worn well – a couple of belts were needed on the whites, and some shoes were a little out of kilter for a services background, but all in all they looked the part.

Ian Gutteridge did a good job on the men with regard to military bearing and marching, which they mostly accomplished well, although I needed more strength in execution from some of the guys, they were a little too soft in their approach, but on the whole it was good, with the older men showing their experience in that field.

Overall a good production, everyone bought into it and gave first-rate performances.  A difficult one for Director Richard Alexander, which I think he pulled off, creating a stirring and thought-provoking production.


review date: 18th September 2015

Luton Library theatre

Director: Richard Alexander

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