Australian playwright Ross Mueller has crafted this play-on commission- after going through the State Library’s very significant collection of First World War diaries, photographs and letters. That is one helluva a brief!
The approach that Mueller has taken is to structure his piece as a four-hander. We follow the lives of four young men from their enlistment in Sydney to the long boat ride that takes them to Cairo, from where they are then thrown into the war zone, into a town named war boy.
Director Fraser Corfield wins focused, strong performances from his cast: Joshua Brennan, Simon Croker, Brandon McClelland and Edward McKenna. They play their characters with plenty of edge, I am sure keeping in mind that if they were the same age living some hundred years ago it could have well been them on the battlefield, experiencing the horror, being the signal men and the stretcher bearers…
Corfield’s design team- set designer Adrienn Lord, lighting designer Emma Lockhart- Wilson, sound designer- Alistair Wallace and composer- Steve Francis- very effectively creates the play’s dark, frightening, living on one’s nerves world.
The rawness and immediacy with which young soldiers, some hundred years ago, put pen to paper to communicate and document what they were going through comes across clearly in this touching production.
A co-production by the Australian Theatre For Young People and the State Library of New South Wales, Ross Mueller’s A TOWN NAMED WAR BOY opened at the Metcalfe Auditorium at the State Library of New South Wales on Saturday 2nd May and is playing this week between Wednesday and Saturday at 7pm, with further performances on Wednesday and Friday at 11.30am and with a closing performance on Sunday at 5pm.