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Dev's Army (Not Part Of - Manchester)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Venue: Taurus
Where: Manchester

For their debut Elysion Productions give us a little cracker of a play. In 1940 on the Irish coast three members of the Local Security Force tell tall tales, indulge in self –delusion and allow old resentments to surface. A shipwrecked stranger raises the question of whether Ireland should form an allegiance with fascist Germany against the old foe of England.    
Writer Stuart D Lee shows how legends and tales of rebellion allow old prejudices to fester and urges that efforts be made to put the past away. His dialogue is excellent and the situations he describes are urgent and compelling. The brevity of the play, however, does force some contrivances including a twist too far.
Such a crowded play sets a challenge for director James Foster to establish a consistent mood. He delivers authenticity - using battered period pieces as props and soaking his cast to demonstrate the force of the weather. The atmosphere he creates sours from innocent teasing between friends, through nasty rumours to inevitable violence.
The influence of past glories continues with the cast. Richard Sails’ excellent interpretation of the self-mythologizing Paddy brings to mind O’Casey’s deceitful Paycock. Wayne Allsop adds a sense of menace with the nameless stranger but more significantly shows the smug satisfaction of someone confident that he can persuade others to fight on his behalf – a true politician.     
Based on this production Elysion are a very welcome addition to Manchester's Fringe Theatre scene.
- Dave Cunningham

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