In a time of cruel stories dressed up as dark comedy, playwright Katrina Wood shows that in the end love is all we’ve got left. A young girl, heading into her future in 1980’s London, is living with her irascible grandfather who is haunted by memories that wrack his sleep and often daylight hours. “Get out” is the usual advice – the man is hopeless, he’s hostile, he’s dangerous. Why she hesitates to leave is the theme and revelation of this compassionate play.
Chas Mitchell is riveting as the POW whose years in a WW2 Japanese death camp have broken his spirit and left him with moods that range from childlike whimpering to fierce male rage. Samantha Mallory as his granddaughter shows the cheekiness of a teenager yet the underlying wisdom of youth. Adrian Burks as the young man who courts her, reveals a hurt soul eager to be healed. Natalia Bilbao, in a number of roles, shines best as the enigmatic other Girl. Lucas Helmersson as a local thug and Jeffrey Gibson a cynical Japanese soldier, add dimension to the two worlds this play inhabits.
Based on the author’s own memories of her father, who actually spent years in the Japanese Changi death camp in Singapore where prisoners were forced to build the Kwai bridge, and the Burma railroad, leaving hundreds dead of brutality and starvation. After the war, Percy Herbert became a familiar face in over 70 movies and, besides appearing in the Oscar winning Bridge over the River Kwai, he also served as advisor on the film.
Director Trace Oakley, working with a tiny space, brings the present and past to life through his concentration on character rather than lavish sets. He’s also not hesitant to show that, as in real life, there is humor alongside tragedy. Produced by Katie Mae Peters.
At The Sherry Theatre, 11052 Magnolia Blvd., NoHo. Tickets: (800) 838-3006 or www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3742908. For information: Https://powandgirl.com