A week or so ago we went to see a new play at the Trafalgar Studios (aka the old Whitehall theatre). It was in the smaller 'studio' theatre (aka the old stalls seats) and was the first time I had been to this alarmingly small space. It would be advised that anyone with 'touching' issues stay well away from it.
We saw BOMBER'S MOON, a new play by William Ivory about the burgeoning friendship between an old man and his younger carer. It had moments but mostly felt a bit padded and could have done with a shorter running time.
Jimmy is a cantankerous old man who lives alone in a sheltered accommodation flat who at night is haunted by memories of the bombing raids over Germany he was involved in during World War 2. He relies very much on his daily carer but is upset when his usual help is replaced by David, a hesitant newcomer.
Slowly a trusting relationship develops between them with Jimmy providing David with encouragement in his new job and in his personal life as a recently-separated husband while David encourages Jimmy to talk about his World War experiences, especially when Jimmy discovers that David has strong religious beliefs which remind him of his best friend who was killed in the war.
And that's about it, towards the end David is arrested after a fracas with his ex's new partner and Jimmy finally reveals the true extent of his feelings for his long-dead friend. This last revelation was the only part in the play that took me by surprise and it is a measure of James Bolam's performance that it rang true as he suggested a man who has lived many years with a genuine feeling of loss.
I can't stay Steve John Shepherd ever made much of an impression on me before but here he gave a fine performance of a man trying desperately to do good for others to cover up his own troubled life. It is more the fault of Ivory that ultimately the character is less of a real person than a series of
attitudes for Jimmy to argue against.
Matt Aston's direction certainly brought out the best in the actors but in the end it was a two-hander that could have done with at least one other person knocking on Jimmy's door, although I will admit the play's final moments gave it an emotionalism that it had lacked up until then.