Launching The Lowry’s NeverBeenSeen series of new work in The Studio, The Play That Killed Me is the creation of Come As You Arts North West, a group led by local film maker and writer Justin MacGregor.
It’s a new series, a new play, a debut for the company and something of a triumph all round.
Inspired by MacGregor’s grandfather, the piece follows the careers of actors Hector (Gerry Mclaughlin) and Charles (Matthew Ganley), who, when stationed in North Africa during the Second World War, decide to try to raise the morale of the troops by staging a play, right at the front line.
MacGregor’s cleverly structured script (he also directs) has Hector as narrator, taking the action pre-war to rep theatre and romance in Windsor before the nightmare of Rommel is unleashed. Hector survives, just about, but there are few dry eyes in the house by the play’s moving conclusion.
Swift, spare and very much to the point in word and deed, with an impressively understated but deeply felt central performance from Mclaughlin, it will be a hard act for the rest of the Studio season to follow.