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 Jensens 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,
thats 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 mothers 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 Glorias
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 1940s, and
the other in the 1990s. 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 hasnt 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
Jensens 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 isnt long before the war turns her simple life
on its head. When news of her sister, Marjes (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.
Its a fantastic piece of architecture and its 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.