Theatre review: Bomber’s Moon at the Park Theatre

L-R James Bolam, Steve John Shepherd ENGINE HOUSE Bomber's Moon by William Ivory, directed by Matt A

L-R James Bolam, Steve John Shepherd ENGINE HOUSE Bomber's Moon by William Ivory, directed by Matt Aston - Credit: Archant

Jimmy was a Second World War Lancaster tail-end Charlie but now lives in supported housing. Dave, his carer, is new to the job (he noticed that his first client was dead when the breakfast porridge he was spooning into her mouth was going nowhere but down her cheek) and talks to his charge in the non-confrontational care-speak that he has been taught at carer school.

Jimmy, on the other hand, is perhaps a little more earthy. He refers to his room as a “fucking shithole” and, when Dave asks him if he would like to talk about it, tells him, robustly, to “fuck off”, puncturing the sentimentality and reverence that we use to talk to old people, or as Alexei Sayle once called them “The Nearly Dead”.

But, surprisingly, they soon bond. And William Ivory’s Bomber’s Moon is the story of how and why they bond: it is the story of bravery, anger, loss, fear, love and recognising a fellow spirit.

Bombing raids

The setting is Jimmy’s room but, when the drama demands, it becomes a frightening evocation of the world of the tail gunner in a raiding Lancaster over Nuremberg, surrounded by the beam of searchlights and ack-ack bursting. There are many reasons to go and see this play: superb stagecraft, set design, lighting and effects are close to top of the list.

For those of a certain age, it is impossible to see James Bolam without visualising Terry Collier. His Jimmy can be seen as a much older version of Terry who has the same whiplash humour and sardonic view of the world but also searing insights and a canny knack of debunking pomposity.

Steve John Shepherd’s Dave is a more slow burn study, whose passion erupts towards the end of the play and beautifully complements Bolam’s rough diamond.

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Bomber’s Moon contains some of the funniest scenes I have ever see on stage – Jimmy’s views on brown bread-loving lesbians and having his daily suppository inserted are hilarious. Likewise, the moments of pathos and passion had the audience spellbound.

You have until May 11 to share in this theatrical magic.

Rating: Four stars