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Goucher’s War (Plymouth)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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Theatre Alibi parachutes its audience into the centre of wartime England where even the Reverend Goucher and his comic strip invention, Hiawyn the naughty pig, are pressed into service for King and country.

Blaming herself (and the Stilton) for the events that follow, an aging publisher brings the brilliant imagination of the gentle children’s author to the attention of favourite nephew Colonel Pynchon, who commands the dirty tricks outfit in deepest Hertfordshire.

Daniel Jamieson’s play Goucher’s War is based on the true story of the Special Operations Executive’s research facility set up in 1941 which built fiendish kit for use by secret agents in the field.

The nightmarish inventions developed there included shaving brushes impregnated with metallic sodium which would combust on contact with water; dead rats, cigarettes and Chianti bottles packed with explosives, and even itching powder for use on the enemy’s underwear.

Played on a Heath Robinson-like set designed by Trina Bramman - resplendent with teapots, horsetails and mini submarines - a fusion of drama, live music (played by the accomplished Finn Beames) and tremendous animation by Forkbeard Fantasy’s Tim Britton tells the tale of poor Donald as he delves deeper and deeper into his vivid imagination, releasing his demons as the fiendish Hiawyn runs amok to tragic conclusion.

Michael Wagg is utterly believable as the vicar while his two colleagues play all the other parts. Shrugging on a fur cape or glasses and a shift in stance is all it takes for the excellent Jordan Whyte to move from aged aunt to doting wife or nerdy researcher Dot while Derek Frood is convincing as the Colonel, headmaster and the elderly Gibbons.

Nikki Sved directs with superb attention to detail for a very entertaining, amusing but thought-provoking evening.


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