Review: A Town Named War Boy
By Liana Magrath. 27th March 2018.
Last night the Griffith Regional Theatre hosted the Australian Theatre For Young People’s production of A Town Named War Boy. The production is based on the diaries of World War 1 soldiers owned by the State Library of NSW.
The story follows 4 young Australian men sent to Gallipoli, relived by Simon, more affectionately known as Snow, as he recalls the good times spent with his mates on the boat, and the horrors experienced on the battlefront, whilst in a psychologist’s office back in Australia.
The scenes switch between the psychologists office and the boat/battlefield, which at first is a little confusing, but once you adapt to the changing settings you're able to follow the plot more clearly, highlighted through Snow’s behaviour: a reasonably relaxed young man with his mates on the boat, an angry and tormented young man in the psychologists office. Snow gives us a small insight into life after the war for returned soldiers; hallucinations, bouts of extreme anger and sadness wreak havoc on his mind and body, conditions that no doubt hindered the rest of his life.
When playwright Ross Mueller wrote A Town Named War Boy his intention was to reflect on the experiences of the individuals on the battlefront, most of them young men with no military experience. Johnny, the youngest and definitely the most naïve of the four boys shows excitement and optimism at the thought of going to fight for his country… a feeling that is quickly diminished once landing on the beach at Gallipoli. Snow later reflects on this optimism whilst on the battlefield, stating in disbelief “… and we all volunteered for this”.
The portrayal of the experiences of the 4 men is done very tastefully, the production is not overly distressing, there are no weapons and gut-wrenching death scenes, rather it focuses on the thoughts of these young men as told through their diaries. There is a sense that you know them; they’re our sons, brothers and neighbours; ordinary people sent to war where they experienced things none of us could ever comprehend.
If you missed seeing A Town Named War Boy unfortunately it has now finished showing at the Griffith Regional Theatre, however it will be shown at other theatres around the country. For tour dates and venues visit www.atyp.com.au.
Image credit: Australian Theatre For Young People.