Review by David Munro
MY BOY Jack at the Richmond Theatre deals with
the latter part of the life of Rudyard Kipling, starting with
his successful attempts to get his myopic son, Jack, into the
Army during the first World War.
Thereafter, his life is tormented by the loss of his son in the
war, and his failure to find out what happened to him, and ends
after his daughters marriage, when he and his wife settle
down to a bleak old age.
I am not aware what the present generation know of Kipling, other
than he is the author of The Jungle Book, and, possibly,
As a poet, he is now unfashionable, so it is a moot question
whether a play based on him can be of any current interest.
Clearly, David Haig considers it is, and certainly his performance
of the fussy, demanding little Bateman-like man he portrays, measures
up to what one has read about Kipling.
But having created the character, there is little or no dramatic
suspense in his life as depicted.
There are the set pieces of the sons life in the trenches,
the arrival of the fateful telegram, his playing with his children,
his daughters wedding, etc, but these are vignettes, effective
enough in their way, but never creating a cohesive whole.
The acting is first rate. David Haigs Kipling is a believable,
and touching, if not very likeable character. Belinda Lang makes
a sympathetic study of his put-upon wife and the rest of the cast
fill out the background as soldiers and others.
Ben Silverstone does what he can with the part of the son, and
develops convincingly from the father-dominated boy to the efficient
officer, even if the noise of battle in the trench scenes made
it difficult, at times, to hear the lines.
As his sister, Elsie, Rosanna Lavelle fleshes out a rather underwritten
part, but she, like the rest of the characters, are really only
there to underline Kiplings internal conflicts.
As you will have gathered, it is a sombre play and one my grandmother
would have described as worthy.
Were it not for the performances, one suspicions that it would
be rather dull, also.
As it is, with this cast, and if you are prepared for a thoughtful
evening, it is worth seeing - a load of laughs, however, it is
My Boy Jack, by David Haig. Director, John Dove; Set and costume
designer, Michael Taylor; Lighting, Mathew England; Sound, Gregory
WITH: David Haig; Belinda Lang; Ben Silverstone; Fred Ridgeway;
Chris Moran; Rosanna Lavelle; Simon Wolfe; Stirling Gee; Stephanie
Snook; David Frederickson; Robert Jack; Judith Rae; Poppy Roberts.
Producer, Kennth H Wax Ltd, Nick Brooke Ltd and Haig Lang Productions,
in association with the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.
Richmond Theatre, The Little Green , Richmond, Surrey.
Mon Sat: 7.45pm; Mat: Wed & Sat: 2.30pm. Box Office:
020 8940 0088.