Our Boys was last seen in the West End in 2012, when The Duchess Theatre played home to Ward 9, Bay 4 of the Queen Elizabeth Military Hospital. Playwright Jonathan Lewis directs an updated version of the play for the Edinburgh Fringe, at PQA Venues. Now set in 2010, in the aftermath of one of the deadliest operations of the Afghanistan conflict, it tackles a host of issues which are just as pertinent today as when it was written in the early nineties.
It is six young injured soldiers who occupy the hospital beds, but they fear their routine will be disrupted by the arrival of a young Potential Officer, who has given up his private room to a Major’s wife. An exploration of friendship and comradery follows, laced with searing wit and touching tenderness.
It is a truly exceptional cast, Christopher Alan Lowry is particularly strong as Keith, dominating the first scenes, and garnering many of the laughs. Nick Howden-Steenstra is eloquently amiable as the young Potential Officer, while as Parry, Charlie Quirke delivers one of the best monologues you’ll see at the Fringe this year. Michael Larcombe as Ian, twisted and contorted through the ravages of war, gives a truly heart-wrenching performance, as moving as it is painful to watch.
Our Boys touches the audience’s hearts because of the way it highlights the bonds that are built up between these six young men, it is so easy to identify with each of the characters, and to truly understand their strengths and weaknesses. There are lighter moments too, the ‘Beer hunter’ scene delights the audience and helps build the overall theme of solidarity mixed with the shackles of discipline.
The updated script and close-knit cast makes this staging of Our Boys absolutely captivating, so much so it could easily transfer to the West End almost entirely as it is. A very moving piece of theatre which has been expertly staged, and benefits from a committed and passionate cast.