Theatre Review: Soldier On At The Other Palace

Soldier On, The Other Palace ★★★★☆

By Johnny Fox Last edited 6 months ago

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Theatre Review: Soldier On At The Other Palace Soldier On, The Other Palace 4
Photo: Tom Grace

If you thought The Comedy About A Bank Robbery was a strange title, here comes the Comedy About Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Soldier On is a brave enterprise of the Soldiers’ Arts Academy charity which helps rehabilitate ex-service people through involvement with theatre, and this excellent company is part-military, part-professional actors.

Author Jonathan Guy Lewis’ (ex-Army, ex-Soldier, Soldier on TV) script borrows from A Chorus Line with some shonky auditions for a community play based on military lives. There’s a lot of amateur theatrical banter but when the company hits its stride, vividly depicting the frictions between absent or traumatised soldiers and their families, some of the scenes are truly explosive.

Most moving among the stories is an ex-colonel, immaculately portrayed by Robert Portal whose prostate cancer makes giving the eulogy at a comrade’s funeral a noble battle with his own plumbing. But the performance you warm to is Cassidy Little, Royal Marine medic and an amputee since an IED incident in Afghanistan who is not only the cheekiest and most actually hilarious within the company, but has parlayed his injuries and talents into a role as a motivational paralympic athlete in Coronation Street.

The piece is refreshingly free of mawkishness save perhaps for an anthem by the Military Wives’ Choir as a post-curtain extra.  But it’s also free of any discussion about whether ex-soldiers resent the circumstances or the politics for which they were injured.

A very worthy cause, though, especially around the time of Remembrance Day.

Soldier On, The Other Palace, Palace Street, SW1.   Tickets £24.50-49.50 (concessions available), until 24 November 2018.

Last Updated 02 November 2018