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Tuesday by Edward Bond
Published on Friday, 07 May 2010

This is a play about courage: the courage it takes a soldier to go to war, the courage to face the horrors he’s seen and the courage to confront the greater horrors which lurk behind his eyes.  It must have taken courage, as well, to work with as formidable a playwright as Edward Bond; not merely staging his script, but updating it for the conflicts of our own generation.  But from the intense, believable opening right through to the cruel finale, it’s clear that fortune has favoured the brave.

We enter the small theatre at Three and Ten to the strains of James Blunt, serenading teenager Irene in her conspicuously ordinary room.  We’ve scarcely taken in the details – the posters, the homework, the constant reminders that she’s very young – before a dishevelled man in combat fatigues bursts in.  It’s her own military sweetheart, the instantly likeable Brian, who’s walked without permission out of his base after a punishing tour in Afghanistan.

Brian has a secret – a terrible secret – and we viscerally share his suffering as he struggles to give it voice.  It all builds to a shocking, unexpected crisis – and an ending which audaciously parts company from Bond’s original, achieving the difficult trick of being inevitable yet heart-breaking too.

Completing the three-handed line-up, it’s not long before Irene’s father appears on the scene.  The unpredictable, shifting power-play between the two men is the central axis of this play, and Jonathan Rice does full justice to his ambiguous role.  At first he seems the elder, wiser, stronger of the two; but he’s a washed-up old soldier facing a life on the dole, and he can change in a moment from a supportive comrade to a heartless bully.  He too has seen a war, but he’s saved himself from feeling it, and while he pries for Brian’s secret we know he would never understand.

Andrew Burse, as the burned-out young Brian, has perhaps the most difficult role – and just occasionally, it was a little too obvious he was reciting lines learned by heart.  But every time it really mattered, his performance was superb, a compelling portrayal of alternate emptiness and rage.  He’s helped by some inspired details of direction – there’s an exquisite expressiveness in the way he hugs a teddy bear – and all three actors dealt well with the desperate intensity of the script.  The climax flirted dangerously with pathos, but the earlier scenes were raw and believable throughout.

My head tells me this play had its flaws, but my heart and my gut demand every one of my five stars.  When it had all ended, predictably and terribly, I found I couldn’t leave; drained and shaken, I stayed quietly in my seat to reflect on what I’d seen.  This new Tuesday showed me the power of a simple performance in an intimate space – and perhaps most surprisingly, gave me a fresh perspective on a subject where I’d honestly thought there was nothing new to say.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.