Bomber’s Moon at the Park Theatre
Bomber’s Moon is an extremely important piece of theatre at a vital moment in our history: when we are losing our last connections to a time of destruction and doubt, a time we should remember that many wished to forget.
James Bolam gives a many-faceted performance of power – a sensitive portrayal of a defiant, but broken soul – in celebrated screenwriter William Ivory’s absorbing work, which focuses on ex-RAF gunner Jimmy at the end of his life, and his interaction with the disturbed but loving careworker David (played by the remarkable Steve John Shepherd).
The set is a basic retirement home, depressingly realistic, offset by the clever placement of a fan that spins intermittently like an ominous propeller. Music of the 1940s sets the scene, nostalgic and gentle, yet somehow chilling.
Bolam is adept at drawing the audience in immediately. He is raw and blisteringly funny, completely deadpan, which has the audience in stitches. This is a journey through a lifetime of emotions, heaped on by things said, things unsaid and fuelled looks. It is a solid and true portrayal of the unfairness of old age – strong language throughout is searing and there’s an awkwardness to watching Jimmy suffer across the stage.
Veiled references to the horror of war interspersed in this play are enough to make it unsettling, especially in the subtle illustration of the slow unravelling of the minds of both Jimmy and David, for different but profound reasons. The engrossing, heart-wrenching physical performances cut to the core; interaction between these wonderful characters show different kinds of trapped and what it means to learn something new. The final scene of both acts brings a tear to the eye.
Absolutely wonderful, there is a depth to Bomber’s Moon that isn’t often felt by all the audience at once. Moments of light-heartedness mask a most tragic reality. Ivory’s very personal play is a stark portrayal of memory and aftermath, of themes of forgiveness, wrong and moving on. Jimmy exclaims: “It’s your duty to remember it so you don’t get shafted a second f***ing time.” When it comes to war, grief and despair, he couldn’t be more right.
Photo: Robert Day
Bomber’s Moon is at the Park Theatre until 11th May 2014. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.