Soldier Box

August 21, 2014 | By | Reply More

✭✭✭✩✩   Brave but uneven

TheSpace on North Bridge (Venue 36) Sat 2 – Fri 22 August 2014

Visually impressive and with considerable raw energy, Soldier Box is a promising production let down by some problems in adaptation.

The Soldier Box company. Photo: One Shot Theatre

The Soldier Box company. Photo: One Shot Theatre

One Shot Theatre Company (in association with New Celts) have adapted Joe Glenton’s book telling the true story of how he refused to serve a second tour in the military in Afghanistan on moral and legal grounds. Instead he went AWOL, leading to a court martial.

Lachlan Lewis-Smith provides the adaptation as well as playing Glenton, and his performance dominates the play. He is subtle and sympathetic at times, angry and forbidding at others, providing a rounded and believable portrait.

Unfortunately, the play is rather unbalanced as a result. Aside from Joe’s wife Clare, given real emotional depth by Cassie Gaughan, the other characters are never really believable. Lara Wauchope, Martyn Forbes and Erin Elkin each take on a variety of roles with energy and diligence, but there are scenes where characters seem simply to be mouthpieces for particular points of view.

a pacy, impressive spectacle

There are two scenes in particular – one featuring Israeli soldiers, one in Australia – that lack any subtlety. Throughout, much of the dialogue in the more ‘political’ scenes appears entirely artificial and there is a tendency towards caricature. This leads to a considerable lowering in the level of dramatic tension.

Those parts of the play dealing with more low-key ‘domestic’ moments are the most successful by far, which in a play dealing with political and moral issues is something of a drawback.

The company have directed the production themselves (with Robin Wilson credited as dramaturge) and the result is a pacy, impressive spectacle, with some striking movement and effective sound and lighting by Alex Card. Gaps between scenes are notably well handled, and the use of a series of flags, denoting the country in which a particular scene is set, is a clever touch that eliminates tiresome exposition.

This impressive visual element to proceedings demonstrates the company’s potential. With a more balanced script, this could have been very good indeed. As it is, it has to go down as interesting but flawed.

Running time 1 hour 10 minutes
The Space on North Bridge, North Bridge EH1 1SD (Venue 36)
Sat 2 – Fri 22 August 2014 (even dates only) at 5.10 pm
Tickets at https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/soldier-box

ENDS

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