Gately the G.I. is trying to fix a broken radio. The radio is a metaphor. This is James McLure’s Pvt. Wars, competently produced by The Cheshire Actors Studio at theSpace at Symposium Hall. The play revolves around three soldiers recovering in hospital and explores their different outlooks on life – asking the question ‘why doesn’t everyone stick to their own private wars?’. Bagpipes chime in the distance and the American president interrupts on the radio creating a sense of isolation without location. The backdrop of war darkens their petty conversations and hangs over their developing relationships like a shadow.
Shows an interesting and often unexplored side of warfare, and this was done with sensitivity and humour.
The set is detailed, with radio parts littering the stage, but this is really a character piece and the actors portray their developing relationships with impressive performances and only slightly patchy accents. Bugg’s portrayal of Gately is impressively subtle and naturalistic, although has a tendency to slip into ‘life-is-like-a-box-of-chocolates’ every now and then. Natwick, who always has a book in hand and comes from a wealthy background, is Amelia Sudlow-Jones, somewhat gender-ambiguously, and the abrasive Silvio is played by Richard Oliver who also directs. Initially, Silvio is an arsehole. He flashes the nurses and has a monologue about men’s underwear. Oliver gives this role both suitable fear and humour with a commanding voice.
While the dialogue flows comfortably, some of the movement feels less natural and more stiff. The plots an engaging one, but I wonder if this production has had to condense too much out of the original play. This means the moral messages end up being rather obvious - simply said rather than shown. The character development also feels slightly hurried, and not entirely unpredictable. Nonetheless, it was a touching piece with strong performances from the central three. The play shows an interesting and often unexplored side of warfare, and this was done with sensitivity and humour.