For King and Country @ Southwark Playhouse*

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Tickets and more information: https://southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/show/for-king-and-country/
Running until: 21st July 2018
Production Photos by: Alex Brenner

Back on stage in London for the first time in 30 years, John Wilson’s World War I play For King and Country couldn’t actually be more timely. The play follows a young soldier called Private Hamp, who decides to walk away from the war and is then arrested for desertion. The play takes place during the trial which leaves Hamp’s life on the line and the audience wondering if he will be found innocent or guilty. The play tackles the topic of mental health, in particular men’s mental health, which is still very much stigmatised and could not be more relevant to today’s society.

(c) Alex Brenner, no use without credit permitted, Dilated Theatre - For King and Country @ Southwark Playhouse (_DSC0998).jpg

As soon as you walk into the auditorium, you are greeted with the immersive and impressive set design. Designer Jacqueline Gunn’s courtroom set is surrounded in the auditorium by beautiful charcoal drawings, which included the battle front lines, an indication that the War was constantly around and affecting everybody at the time. Robbie Butler’s simple yet effective lighting design kept the auditorium fairly dark but incorporated flashes of light to signalize the War that was happening outside the court room.

(c) Alex Brenner, no use without credit permitted, Dilated Theatre - For King and Country @ Southwark Playhouse (_DSC0051).jpg

The cast is led by Adam Lawrence as Private Hamp, who brings an emotive depth to this character as well as a boyish naivety that really has the audience rooting for him.  Playing his defending officer is Lloyd Everitt as Lieutenant Hargreaves, who was equally excellent and isn’t afraid to delve into Hargreaves ambitious side as he continued to fight for the truth with tooth and claw throughout the play. All of the acting talent among this brilliant ensemble shines brightly but, for me, one standout was Eugene Simon as the Padre who really brought empathy to his character, particularly in the scenes with Private Hamp. He added emphasis on creating the undertone of wishing he could’ve done better to support Hamp; something I’m sure we all feel.

For King and Country is a truly, special play that had audience members sobbing in their seats. Director Paul Tomlinson has assembled a fantastic cast to perform this remarkable story. Don’t wait another 30 years to catch it.

Until next time,

hayley-sprout-transparent

 

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