In Loyal Company at Alexandra Palace
Having sold out at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe, In Loyal Company is back by popular demand and playing in larger venues throughout 2019. It’s 1941 and Arthur Robinson, known to friends and family as Joe, is motivated to sign up and serve his country following bombing raids in his hometown of Liverpool. As the soldier becomes a prisoner of war, we follow his true account of survival, written and performed by Robinson’s great-nephew David William Bryan.
Bryan’s stage presence is undeniable and it is testament to his incredible skill as an actor that he manages to tell this story alone on stage without the assistance of props or scenery. The succinct lighting, sound effects and costume changes, as well as multi-rolling, contribute to an incredibly fast and urgent pace that captivates and engages us for 75 minutes, but it is the sharp script and its creative and confident delivery that allows the story to flow with such ease. To be transported from Liverpool to Singapore whilst meeting and getting to know numerous characters along the way with only one performer is remarkable and it’s soon apparent to us just why the show has enjoyed such tremendous success thus far. Bryan specialises in performing one-man shows and it’s clear he has mastered the art form.
This is an honest depiction of war absent of any cliché or hyperbole. Fleeting from bleak accounts of life in the prison camp to vivid descriptions of infections and illness, we are also presented with moments of humour. The fact that Joe is such a warm and charming character also lures us into his world and Bryan successfully interweaves interaction with the audience at appropriate times throughout.
There have been numerous plays, novels and films about the Second World War, however there is something fresh and innovative about this production that encourages us to perhaps look at it with a different perspective. By having just one performer on stage, we gain an injection of humanity which might have become lost had a larger cast been involved. The show, opening with songs of the era and closing with Bryan saluting to the last post, leaves us with a sense of having been transported back in time, our eyes opened to the reality of war and a feeling of gratitude to those who fought for the freedom from which we now benefit.
In Loyal Company was at Alexandra Palace on 5th June 2019 as part of its UK tour. For further information about venues and dates visit the show’s website here.
Watch the trailer for In Loyal Company here: