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Memories dug up and skeletons exposed



Review by Emma Whitelaw

IF YOU were to meet Gloria as a loveable old woman, you would never imagine her to be capable of the atrocities of her youth. Mysteriously haunting remnants of a bygone era are revealed in Leila Boris’ adaptation of Liz Jensen’s War Crimes for the Home.

The effects of the War on Gloria and her family were devastating. The hardships and suffering made Gloria do all sorts of things she would not have done under normal circumstances. Yet, despite the adversities of her youth, the woman she becomes at the grand old age of 74 is bubbly and full of life.

It is as though the War never happened – well, at least, that’s what old Gloria would have you believe. The mysteries surrounding what she calls her Chicago box are dug up when her son, Hank, played by Alex Banks, stumbles across it one day.

Hank knows nothing of his mother’s former self and starts to quiz her about her past and just who his father really is.

In his search, he finds a woman claiming to be Gloria’s long-lost daughter. Not knowing who or what to believe, he insists on uncovering the truth. But little does he know that the further he delves into the past, the less he will want to know!

The play features two Glorias; one from the 1940’s, and the other in the 1990’s. Both women are fantastic.

The first time we meet Gloria, she is in a nursing home. Although she may have lost her looks, she is still a bit of a goer and she sure hasn’t lost her wicked demeanour.

Played by Faith Kent, the old Gloria loves a joke, but her memory is not so good. Her recollections of passionate nights with her American GI are crystal clear, but there are puzzling gaps and black holes to be filled.

Leila Boris is incredibly talented; not only did she adapt Liz Jensen’s novel for the stage, she also stars as the young Gloria. She plays the proud, young cockney perfectly. Her happy-go-lucky outlook on life that continues on into her later years is inspirational! Before she meets her ‘yank’, the dashing Ron, played by Tim Davenport, she is young and innocent.

However, it isn’t long before the war turns her simple life on its head. When news of her sister, Marje’s (Tess Mawle) fiancé has been killed, Gloria is distraught.

She is unable to console her grieving sister and is devastated when Marje moves to London. Unbeknownst to her, it is at this very moment that her world begins to crumble.

The new oh!art Centre, at Oxford House, is simply stunning. It’s a fantastic piece of architecture and it’s well worth a visit. The set was impeccably well done, as were the costumes and lighting. Although it is so new, what it lacks in character it soon makes up for in comfort!

War Crimes for the Home is part of the ID season at the oh!art Centre. It deals with poignant issues of identity and has a good laugh about it too!

War Crimes for the Home by Liz Jensen. Adapted for the stage and starring Leila Borris. Also starring, Faith Kent, Tess Mawle, Tim Davenport, Yvonne Riley, Alex Banks, Jackie Everett, Peter Andrew, Janis Hudson and Stephen Kemble. June 9 – 26 at the oh!art Centre, Oxford House, 10 Derbyshire Street, London, E2. Box Office 020 7749 1164.

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