Radio review: Missing in Action, Radio 4

Clare Lizzimore and Sam Troughton clearly have an affinity for working with each, having recently collaborated on Mike Bartlett’s Bull (which she directed) and the Royal Court’s Mint (which she wrote). So it seems only natural that the pair should reunite for her debut radio play Missing In Action. A busy work week means this is going up too late for you to still hear it (radio programmes remain on the iPlayer for a week) so I’ll keep it brief but sweet enough that they’ll hopefully replay it soon.

Perhaps bravely – with the war commemorations this year – but certainly wisely, Missing In Action focuses on the dark aftermath of conflict, the yawning abyss that soldiers can feel on their return from war to a world that has continued without them and to which they feel singularly ill-equipped. The play starts off with Natalie scarcely believing her eyes that the husband who had been declared missing in action in Helmand Province is shopping in a local supermarket. He doesn’t know who she is, says that he is someone else, but something is triggered and a painful process is initiated which sweeps up all around him. Continue reading “Radio review: Missing in Action, Radio 4”

Review: Mint, Royal Court

“Is that what you knew? Even then? Even as a little boy? That you had it in you?”

The Royal Court’s weekly rep season has been about promoting new writers but the name Clare Lizzimore may already be familiar to some, as indeed it was to me and making me more intrigued to see her play – Mint – than any of the others. She has worked as a director for a few years now, creating some excellent work in intimate surroundings like Mike Bartlett’s Bull at Sheffield’s Studio and One Day When We Were Young as part of Paines Plough’s Roundabout season. But Mint marks her first foray into playwriting, as part of the Royal Court’s Jerwood New Playwrights programme. 

And whether through design or just a happy accident of fate, it reunites Lizzimore with Sam Troughton – most excellent in Bull – who takes on the lead role of Alan and delivers one of the finest performances this season has seen so far. Alan is facing a five year prison sentence for an unspecified act of robbery and as he serves his time, we see the snippets of normality he is allowed to experience through the weekly visits from his family. The banter with his slightly older sister, the bickering with his much younger sister, the grim disapproval of his stern father, the blithe but affected nonchalance of his uncomprehending mother. But the play also covers the three years after his release as it turns out being released ain’t as easy as all that.  Continue reading “Review: Mint, Royal Court”