VETERANS DAY – Finborough Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Shanine SalmonLeave a Comment

Finborough Theatre, London – until 24 January 2017

Veterans Day is appropriately timed revival that shows not much has changed when dealing with members of the armed services post-conflict.

About a decade after everyone else, I started playing Rockstar Games’ LA Noire (if you ever wondered what a theatre critic does when she isn’t criticising), which is set in Post WWII LA. Much of the story focuses on ex-servicemen; promises they were made such as housing but also their treatment of others. The message throughout the game is that they couldn’t ever adjust to civilian life, a reasoning blamed for many of the murders of women and abuse of wives throughout the game.

First produced in 1989 Donald Freed’s Veterans Day looks at the same issues through three men; Private Leslie Holloway (Roger Braban), a WWI Veteran, Sergeant John MacCormick Butts (Craig Pinder), a WWII Veteran and Colonel Walter Kercelik (Charlie De Bromhead), a veteran of the Vietnam War. The saddest thing about this revival is the number of wars since and the extra characters that could be added.

All have their own internal demons and each man has his own way of coping. This play is more a thriller as one decides to take matters into his own hands at their Remembrance Ceremony where they are to be all honoured for their achievements.

The play feels more like a movie thriller, there is tension, there are twists but ultimately there are some great performances from Charlie De Bromhead as the poster boy for the armed forces who has almost ice cold robotic manner and Pinder (who resembles Eisenhower) as Butts, the seemingly outgoing businessman with a dark secret. I was strangely drawn to Matt Downing’s Sound design, which convinced me there was a parade going on behind the door but I felt Braban was underused as the shellshocked Holloway and whilst his presence helped the play I did wonder if they could have done it without him as it seems a waste of an experienced actor.

 

The use of war songs such as ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary‘ set the mood but I questioned the choice to make this two act play interval-less. I felt some of the tension was lost by ploughing through, there was very little directional boldness too from director Hannah Boland Moore and I think the interval should have been left as written. This is dated much better than its rep partner The Trackers of Oxyrynchus but after a very tense build up I was left a bit deflated and disappointed by the conclusion

It is a play with a strong message but it fails to keep the energy and tension promised mid- way through.

 

Shanine Salmon on RssShanine Salmon on Twitter
Shanine Salmon
Shanine Salmon was a latecomer to theatre after being seduced by the National Theatre's £5 entry pass tickets and a slight obsession with Alex Jennings. She is sadly no longer eligible for 16-25 theatre tickets but she continues to abuse under 30 offers. There was a market for bringing awareness that London theatre was affordable in an era of £100+ West End tickets – Shanine’s blog, View from the Cheap Seat, launched in April 2016, focuses on productions and theatres that have tickets available for £20 and under. She is also quite opinionated and has views on diversity, pricing, theatre seats and nudity on stage. Her interests include Rocky Horror, gaming, theatre (of course) and she also has her own Etsy shop. Shanine tweets at @Braintree_.
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Shanine Salmon on RssShanine Salmon on Twitter
Shanine Salmon
Shanine Salmon was a latecomer to theatre after being seduced by the National Theatre's £5 entry pass tickets and a slight obsession with Alex Jennings. She is sadly no longer eligible for 16-25 theatre tickets but she continues to abuse under 30 offers. There was a market for bringing awareness that London theatre was affordable in an era of £100+ West End tickets – Shanine’s blog, View from the Cheap Seat, launched in April 2016, focuses on productions and theatres that have tickets available for £20 and under. She is also quite opinionated and has views on diversity, pricing, theatre seats and nudity on stage. Her interests include Rocky Horror, gaming, theatre (of course) and she also has her own Etsy shop. Shanine tweets at @Braintree_.

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