Last Updated on 17th November 2022
Paul T Davies reviews Found In Translation’s production of Bring Back Chainmail at the Mercury Theatre Colchester.
We have all created worlds in our imaginations and in our bedrooms, a place where we feel safe and hidden away from the trials of the world. James has retreated into a world of knights and jousts, disconnected from reality and his father. His best friend, Sophie, is a Bard, a mute who is the bridge between his two worlds. But James is grieving for his recently deceased mother, and the play is a sweet, gorgeous mediation on loss, parenthood and friendship. I first saw a scratch version a few years ago, and the play has been a labour of love for writer and actor Tommy Campe, now getting a full production produced by Found In Translation.
Campe captures beautifully the child-like wonder of James’s world, innocent, yet clearly with an undercurrent of despair and fear of the real world. Megan Risley is perfect as the Bard/Sophie, and both young performers have excellent physicality. One of the most successful aspects of the show is audience interaction, both welcoming people into the theatre, and maintaining this excellent connection throughout, we are his court. As Dad, David Sayers gives a good performance of a man in grief, but perhaps his (King) Dave is a little too sensitive, I felt he was the kind of Dad who would talk to his son, perhaps he needed to be more “Geezer”, his feelings locked down even further. However, when the two connect, many poignant moments are provided, and the audience involvement in the tournament is beautifully handled by all three.
The show finds a natural conclusion and then carries on with a possibly unnecessary further scene. But Ollie Harrington’s direction keeps the pace lively, and the staging is simple yet highly effective. There are hints that James is autistic, and the production was supported by Autism Anglia, and this could have been explored further. However, the play’s strength is its perfect balance of comedy and drama and raises awareness of how parents and children can talk about grief.