David William Bryan brings a personal touch to these story about a young Liverpudlian who signs up to fight in the second world war as his critically acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe show comes to London.
The young Liverpudlian, Arthur Robinson, though known as Joe because it is quicker in a house of full of people, was Bryan’s great-uncle and his story of going to fight but ending up in a POW camp in Thailand building the infamous Burma railway looks at a side of the war we rarely see on the stage. Those who have no medals for bravery but went through unimaginable hell and survived.
Bryan covers Joe’s story with energy (taking on the variety of characters around him), warmth, humour and compassion. Joe is likeJoe never feels sorry for himself, at least not until his return and he realises that the world and its people have changed around him. It is an incredibly moving and heartfelt look at a man Bryan never met but feels he knows well. It looks back without a proud nostalgia but the practicality of the times; the practicality of Joe’s mother losing children, the practicality that they were under attack at home so why not go away and the practicality that time waits for no man.
In Loyal Company doesn’t take a side on war; it embraces why men went to fight and why despite the hardship (if they managed to come back alive) they felt it was all worth it but Joe’s eventuality feels like a waste of a man, a waste of many men that fought, never came or fought and came back with illness and disability.
It is a strong work, with a great performance from Bryan and I believe it has a real future as a performance piece but also for young actors looking for a strong monologue that shows their range.
In Loyal Company was on until 27 January https://vaultfestival.com/whats-on/in-loyal-company/