This one-man, but multi-character play, written, directed and performed by Mark Carey (though partially also written by William Shakespeare) contains multitudes.
It’s a demonstration of acting skill; it’s a resume of the Bard’s Henry V; it’s a commentary on 4 wars – the Boer one, World Wars One and Two, and the Hundred Years war; it’s at once anti-war, and pro-war; and also obliquely references the performer’s own family.
Where to start? The conceit of the play centres around the character of George Crocker, an odd-job man living in Devon in 1943, who, without any acting experience, joins his local drama group and is involved in its production of Henry V.
There’s a magnificently old-school thespian director; a village idiot who’s actually a savant; a nice lady who makes costumes and plays the love interest in this play and in Henry V; a mad choleric and drunken retired major; and more.
Carey jumps between these characters with consummate skill, in a performance which encompasses comedy, pathos, rage and poignancy; punctuated with the beauty of Shakespeare’s own lyricism and bombast.
It culminates in the nationalistic rant of the “God for Harry, England and Saint George” speech, which in these ‘Faragiste’ times is a slightly chilling ending – though whether that is Carey’s intention is left to us to ponder.
Altogether a remarkable and highly original piece of theatre.
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Reviewer: John Christopher Wood | Star rating: ****
Into the Breach, written, directed and performed by Mark Carey, was at the Rondo Theatre in Bath on Friday 14th June 2019.