For Services Rendered Bombed In The 1930s And This Version Isn't Much Better

For Services Rendered, Jermyn Street Theatre ★★☆☆☆

For Services Rendered Bombed In The 1930s And This Version Isn't Much Better For Services Rendered, Jermyn Street Theatre 2
Photo: Robert Workman

We've heard a lot about the first world war in the past five years, due to the centenary. It was carnage, of course, but that wasn't always a popular view. While most of us now think that war is a grim business, the anti-war message of Somerset Maugham's 1932 play — about a family in post-war Britain — stuck in people's throats and it bombed.

This version is liable to leave you restless for other reasons, namely because it feels overly wistful and twee with much of the original anger feeling swamped, rarely surfacing. What we're left with in this production is a lot of meditative gathering of apples, pensive rose picking and staring into the distance, moist eyed whilst proclaiming that the war was quite horrible, wasn't it?

There's something too melodramatic about it all as the large cast wander around a tiny theatre in tennis whites. It's hard to care about much of the storyline as the characters veer towards their glaringly obvious fates. There are some strong performances (of note is Diane Fletcher as the matriarch of the family) but sadly, they just can't make this feel interesting or meaty enough to engage with.

For Services Rendered, Jermyn Street Theatre, Jermyn Street, SW1Y 6ST £30. Until 5 October

Last Updated 09 September 2019