Iain Finlay MacLeod’s I Was a Beautiful Day allows us to make a fleeting but compelling connection to a post-traumatic stress suffered in the wake of the Gulf War. I hesitate to say ‘disorder’ because the beauty of Robert Willox’s portrayal of Dan is in the rationality he brings to a subject that could so easily fall under the spell of melodrama.
We are after all in a hospital for psychiatric patients. Whether Dan has chosen to be there or not is tackled keenly. We can all be prisoners of our memories in the sense that often what we would rather forget remains. However, as Dan is apparently forced to relive the horrors of war the play simultaneously presents a man who draws his energy from a near spiritual connection with the Isle of Lewis; it is his anchor and escape in a world that exhausts him.
Nicholas Karimi’s excellent Glaswegian 'Lube' is the proverbial devil on Dan’s shoulder. Increasingly paranoid, intense and fantastic he wrestles firstly with Dan’s mind then body as he offers escapism. This is in stark contrast to the real escape, or return proffered by Anne. First clumsy then courageous in her courting of Dan’s soul in the unlikely guise of a latter day cartographer, Kirsty Stuart completes an outstanding cast for this production.
Lube is costumed in a slightly stereotypical tracksuit and loose tie attire, but the performances, most enduringly of all from Robert Willox, make this a trifling distraction, and Beckie Mills' direction rarely falters in a production that does justice to the Finborough's reputation as one of the 'most stimulating venues in London'.
I Was a Beautiful Day runs on Sundays and Mondays until 27 July.