Dev's Army

Dev’s Army, by Stuart D. Lee, is built around critical and highly sensitive issues in the history of the island of Ireland that to this day determine its politics and its divisions. We’re told in the programme that the play is ‘a comedy that examines the first major foreign policy decision the nascent nation made independent of British rule namely, to remain a neutral country for the duration World War II’.

very much in the style of Dad’s Army

Humour can often lighten and indeed enlighten the most serious of topics and seeing the funny side of something can be a source of relieving tension. At times this production does just that. It opens very much in the style of Dad’s Army, to which it is no doubt indebted. The Dev of this army, Taoiseach Eamon de Valera, has his image displayed on the wall near to the colourful green, white and orange flag and reminders of the country’s Roman Catholic allegiance. Designer Phil Newman has paid attention to detail in creating the tiny hut that looks out towards the Isle Man as part of Ireland's early warning defence against invasion. No doubt Paul Freeman had fun putting together the sounds for the raging winds that convincingly blast through the dwelling every time the door is opened with related lighting issues firmly under the control of Amy Daniels.

Paddy Devlin (Paul Murphy), the senior former soldier in this trio of the Local Defence Force that occupy the hut, potters around the hut muttering often amusing lines to himself as he flicks through various radio stations broadcasting what have become famous lines from Churchill and songs by Vera Lyn that set the scene. He is joined by the seemingly dim-witted Michael O’Connolly (Eoin McAndrew) who becomes the butt of many jokes, which tend to be rather demeaning after a while, but it is he who will provide one of the major twists in the plot. The political tension mounts when they are joined by Dermot Ryan (Nick Danan) who fought in the First World War and is a British sympathiser. Paddy, on the other hand, is a staunch republican with exaggerated claims to involvement in such events as the Easter Rising.

The first major turn of events comes with a mighty explosion and the discovery of Betty Pope (Niamh Finlay) washed up on the shore. The mystery surrounding her now becomes the focus of enquiry and questioning. From this point on the play becomes increasingly farcical before heading towards tragedy in its denouement via elements of black comedy. It makes for an uncomfortable series of changes in style and a loss of credibility that suggest either flaws in the play itself or that director Helen Niland simply hasn’t come to terms with handling the transitions.

Strange Fish Theatre Company, which specialises in producing Irish drama, scored two stunning hits with Quietly and The Matchbox. Dev’s Army, at The Bread & Roses Theatre, however, is just not in the same league.

Reviews by Richard Beck

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse


Orange Tree Theatre

She Stoops to Conquer

Alexandra Palace

Treason - the Musical

Hampstead Theatre

To Have And To Hold


Trueman and the Arsonists

The Space

Now Entering Ely, Nevada


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

It’s 1940 and as war moves ever closer to the neutral Ireland’s shores, three members of the Local Defence Force keep watch from the Dublin coast, armed only with a pistol with one bullet and a bicycle with one wheel. When a stranger suddenly appears at their remote look-out post, stakes are raised and loyalties questioned in this dark comedy that combines the wit of Sean O’Casey with the thrill of film noir

Most Popular See More


From £39.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £12.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Frozen the Musical

From £36.00

More Info

Find Tickets