Immortal

Ciaran McConville

GreanTea Productions

Greenside @ Infirmary Street

From 15 August 2016 to 27 August 2016

Rating: ***

Review by Graeme Strachan

During the latter years of the Second World War, the five surviving crewmen of a Lancaster bomber, shot down over Holland, have taken shelter in Dutch school.

All of them are bruised and bleeding, but one is seriously wounded with shrapnel and his weakened state means it's a stark choice of stay with him or leave him behind as they make an escape. Throughout their panicked discussion, they reminisce, chat and enact moments from their lives.

Immortal is a boldly staged play and GreanTea has gone to great lengths in costuming and set dressing, even down to the worryingly realistic broken and bloody noses of the airmen and their battered flightsuits. The single location of the play also adds to the mystique, as does the ever-pervading sense of doom as the men fret over the impending threat of an SS patrol happening upon them.

Throughout, the cast manage to set up their characters well. Each is differentiated through not only their past and social strata but through accent and manner, from the plucky boistorous Yank to the upper crust lad and the perpetually wisecracking East-End Londoner.

There is something of a schism here, though, in that, in differentiating the characters so wildly, the first half of the play comes off as mildly perplexing, as half the young men don't seem to be taking the situation seriously at all, and as a result it comes off as forced-written humour, when the beginning should feel more direct.

There's a pacing issue as well, as the play steps up a gear in the last third when an unexpected event throws the group into different gear and brings everything to a head with far more urgency.

The production is also marred by a few technical issues, most relating to the audibility of the piece. The radio chatter that bookends the play is blasted out so loud it hurts the ears. Also, throughout the entirety of the production, a large fan was blowing in the venue, presumably to counter the heat and humidity, but resulting in much of the early dialogue being indecipherable between that steady thrum, amidst the screams and yells of the wounded airman.

These technical concerns, however, are likely teething issues that will be corrected as the run continues and, overall, this is an enjoyable play with some endearing and thought-provoking performances.