'Bomber's Moon' review or 'Pistol-fire banter.'

Bomber's Moon, William Ivory
Trafalgar Studios, 24th April 2015
Written for Time Out 



It’s care assistant David’s first day looking after war veteran Jimmy and things are not going well. In fact, the only time that Jimmy stops swearing is to accuse David of his incompetence. Before long, though, these two will be waltzing beneath the night sky. ‘Bomber’s Moon’ is a beautifully performed two-hander, which explores the comfort that male companionship can bring in both wartime and peace. 

Matt Aston’s production features two barnstorming performances of real depth and sensitivity. James Bolam shines as ex-RAF gunner Jimmy, who used to soar the skies but is now confined to his armchair. This is a gift of a role from writer William Ivory, packed with biting quips, nuance and shitloads of swearing. Bolam rattles through the dynamo dialogue, savouring the scathing put-downs with visible relish. 

Bolam’s performance is fiercely entertaining but there are glimpses of weakness too. As Jimmy shuffles across his room, or meekly receives his pills, the humiliation burns off him. The power dynamic between Jimmy and David (Steve John Shepherd) ripples gently throughout, as the two grow increasingly dependent on each other’s company and care.  

Laura McEwen’s clever set, with its propelling fan and porthole door, has a hint of Lancaster bomber about it. It only takes a flash of light to transport us back to Jimmy’s wartime exploits. But despite these fluid shifts these scenes feel slightly clunky; entertaining but easily forgotten.  

The plot gets a little carried away and things do get a tad sentimental at the end (‘Only love matters!’). But it is testimony to these fine performances that the final dance, which might have been cringeingly cheesy, is met not with sniggers – but with sighs.

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