It's time for my review of Soldier On.
The Other Palace, formerly known as the St. James Theatre, is soon becoming one of my favourite Off West End venues. I have seen three excellent shows at this venue over the past few years: The Three Lions in 2015, The Wild Party in early 2017 and Big Fish in late 2017. Therefore, I was rather keen to see what The Other Palace's latest offering would be like.
Soldier On tells the story of a worn-out director and former actor persuading a group of ex-combatants and their families to tell the stories of their lives both at war and at home. These stories give us a glimpse into the difficulty of post-traumatic stress disorder; there are wives that have to cope with violent or estranged husbands and mothers that feel alienated from their sons. I personally found the storyline of Soldier One to be extremely powerful, and the play truly does tell an inspiring tale. It is quite apparent that this play gives an exceedingly accurate portal of life after war, and how it affects both soldiers and their loved ones. Throughout the entire play, I was astounded by how life-like the dialogue appeared to be. There were several moments where it genuinely felt as if I could have been watching a live documentary. It is clear that Jonathan Lewis, the author of Soldier On, has made a large effort in ensuring that the play feels as life-like and real as possible. My only slight criticism for the writing would be that the audition scenes that took place at the beginning of act one did not feel as if they were necessarily needed. Whilst these initial scenes do provide introductions for the characters, act one could still easily function without them, and this would therefore also reduce the running time (which stands at two and a half hours).
The cast of Soldier On are utterly phenomenal; the ensemble is full of extremely talented actors and there are no weak links whatsoever. They all have great chemistry with one another, creating a unique and interesting dynamic onstage. All actors display a clear range of abilities in their performances, excellently portraying both the comedic and more darker elements of the play.
At the performance that I attended (28th of October), after the curtain call had taken place David Solomon, who portrays Harry, stepped forward to announce that at that performance they were to be joined by the Military Wives Choir to perform an original song together. I would just like to say how impressed I was with this performance; it was a lovely song and I was exceedingly moved.
The featured star of Soldier On is, drum roll please... ELLIE NUNN!
This was a really difficult decision, as all of the actors in Soldier On were remarkable, however after a lot of thought I decided to award it to Ellie Nunn. Nunn's performance as Sophie is outstanding. The character begins the play as lively and excitable, however we later see that this is only a front and deep down Sophie is going through an extremely difficult time at home with her husband, who is suffering from PTSD. Nunn portrayed all of the different sides to the character really well, hence why I reached this decision for featured star.
Now for my final verdict on Soldier On. I give Soldier On...
Soldier On was truly unlike anything I had ever seen before. It is a very powerful piece of theatre, and the cast all deliver sublime performances.
Think it should have got a higher rating? Agree with my rating? Think it should have got a lower rating? If so comment below.
Thanks for reading!