Thumbs up for Doctor Scroggy's War at Globe
Howard Brenton's latest for the Globe is 'one of the very finest of this year's glut of First World War dramas'
Two of the most acclaimed Great War plays so far this year, Peter Gill's Versailles and Nicholas Wright's Regeneration have been the work of the Royal Court old soldiers' brigade; here's a third, Howard Brenton's sharp and entertaining vaudeville... Brenton keeps his focus shifting through the eddying developments in the social strata... This is Brenton's third fine play for the Globe, and he's well supported by Dove, designer Michael Taylor and the music of William Lyons, blending period songs with clever pastiche, played by a nifty trio on high in khaki uniform.
By far the most successful writer for this venue over the past few years has been Howard Brenton... Brenton now returns, along with John Dove, his clever director on both, for one of the very finest of this year's glut of First World War dramas... it's appealing and engaging... Dove directs with energy and sensitivity, using a thrust to extend the action out into the groundling space... It seems a crime that Scroggy has a mere seven performances left.
John Dove's beautifully brisk production exploits Brenton's talent for swift transitions and verbal riff... James Garnon does a first-rate job of showing how he adopted a facade of sporty heartiness to deal with the surrounding suffering... Catherine Bailey as Penelope moves with equal conviction from volunteer nurse to militant pacifist... Even if Brenton's play tackles familiar themes, it still hits you in the heart.
Funny and moving... Howard Brenton's muscular, moving, high-spirited play about the pioneering plastic surgeon Harold Gillies in World War I not only offers a new perspective on the conflict, it also shuns the familiar ways of whiskery villains and hapless victims... If there's one criticism, it is that we don't get more of Gillies and his alter ego, Scroggy... Brenton is at the top of his game... it's James Garnon as Gillies who steals the show.
In a year of inevitable remembrance for the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, it is gathering us together to hear the alternately punchy and poignant story... Intermittently powerful portrait of the First World War from the aftermath of injury... John Dove's production, with its live musicians providing atmospheric accompaniment, keeps the action fluid... his actors - in particular Will Featherstone's Jack and James Garnon's Dr Gillies - lend strong characterisations to a play that sometimes trades in cliche but resonates with feeling.