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 The Theatreguide.London Review

We That Are Left
Palace Theatre, Watford      Spring 2007

Gary Owen's new play is a nice, sweet domestic drama - and I do not mean any of those double-edged adjectives to be disparaging in any way.

The play doesn't challenge or threaten, but it shines a soft and loving light on some perhaps over-familiar bits of reality, enabling us to see them afresh and with affecting warmth.

The play has a double time line. In 1940 a boy and girl, both in the military, meet. She is engaged to a POW and they are both honourable enough to fight a growing attraction between then, while also coping with the fear that Britain is losing the war.

(And not least of the play's quiet enlightenments is the reminder of how very real that prospect seemed at the time.)

In the present an elderly couple who haven't seen each other in half a century are reunited. The play leaves ambiguous for quite a while just who they are, and I'm not going to give it away except to say it is not what you might first assume.

But one of the things this half of the play reminds us of is that the generation of people in their seventies and eighties today are still having their lives defined in unexpected ways by The War.

In effect there are two plays here, one about youth in wartime, one about old age. Each has something to tell us, each treats its characters with respect, each is infused with an unironic warmth.

And of course they are not two plays, but one, and they bounce off each other in telling and moving ways.

Director Brigid Larmour and her impeccable cast - Gawn Grainger and Angela Down as the older couple, Paul Woodson and Amy Hall as the younger - beautifully create and sustain the two realities and the loving tone that envelops both of them.

Special mention must be made of Hannah Clark's design, that finds varying and evocative ways of dividing the stage in two.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review of We That Are Left - Palace Theatre, Watford 2007

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