When a theatre production is on a fairly high profile venue (in this case the Duchess Theatre in Aldwych) and has a cast of six promising and established actors you assume the best. However that means that the fall becomes that much further when it isn’t up to scratch.
Unfortunately for me, Our Boys was one of those shows.
With the cast consisting of Cian Barry, Jolyon Coy, Arthur Darvill, Laurence Fox, Matthew Lewis and Lewis Reeves, you’d be forgiven for expecting a lot from this rather flat play. It starts promisingly with a set looking like an exact replica of an NHS hospital ward with clothes hanging by the beds that betray the eighties era, but as soon as the action (I use the term loosely) begins you’re left looking more at the hospital detail than the drama unfolding on stage.
It struck me that the audience weren’t maybe your typical West End bunch and maybe came down to see ‘that one off Doctor Who’, which makes me feel slightly more sorry for them. What was delivered were a series of dramatic sketches with only a handful of moments I remember being funny (and not laugh out loud, more of a titter) and more awkward silences (or pregnant pauses as I’m sure the director was going for) than a blind date with tourettes.
The story itself wasn’t bad as such, and the poignant reminder that these men and women in the armed forces who get injured physically and psychologically don’t always receive the best care when they return from service, was timely and just. The actors tried their best with rather bitty dialogue, but even then there were some obvious moments of dodgy performance that could have been ironed out a little. And strangely I got the feeling that not everyone got on with each other offstage, which I don’t think I should have noticed.
I can’t help feeling that the entire script should have been edited down massively, and that an additional layer of plot would have lifted this otherwise wet, pale and slightly stale production, however as it was you’re left feeling a little cheated having sat through two hours of angst, over hyped finger pointing at the treatment of soldiers and general awkwardness.
I’m lead to believe that the writer, Jonathan Guy Lewis, wrote it from his own experience, but as nobel as this seems it really needed something more for the point of the show to hit home to a modern audience. A plot maybe.