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In Loyal Company review at Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh – ‘bursting with energy’

David William Bryan in In Loyal Company. Photo: Holly Wren David William Bryan in In Loyal Company. Photo: Holly Wren
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Bursting with energy and bold theatrical strokes, David William Bryan tells the true story of his great uncle Arthur – known as Joe – who never thought of going to war until the Liverpool bombing raids of the Second World War.

 

With a clear style, easy demarkation of the various voices and a big, physical presence, Bryan creates a hugely sympathetic character in Joe and his large family. The characters are warm and he works hard to create the air of a community united in its poverty, using shortcuts of detail, such as his mother’s pride in her front step, without any fear of cliche.

 

Nor did Joe have fear – until it came to asking his sweetheart to dance. When the bombs fell he joined up, went to Singapore, was captured and spent years building railways as a prisoner of war in a Japanese camp.

 

It might be a part of history which has already been explored with great power in popular culture, but Bryan brings a fresh sense of humanity to it. Having already created huge empathy with Joe, he cuts easily into understanding the reality of coping in extreme circumstances. Clear and helpful lighting and sound design by Jamie Keene throughout enhances the reality of Bryan’s creations.

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Verdict
Engaging and dynamic solo show finds horror and humanity in the story of a Second World War soldier
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