Mark Ludmon reviews Hugh Dichmont’s play The War On Terry at Landor Space in London.
The War On Terry
Landor Space, London
An air of sadness hangs over The War On Terry, the quirky new play by Hugh Dichmont. From the moment we meet Terry dreaming under his duvet on the sofa, he is soundtracked by a piece of piano music with the mournful air of a Chopin Nocturne. As he goes on to tell his story, we learn that he is haunted by memories of his older brother, a talented pianist whose career was cut short by depression – except that today is Terry’s 27th birthday when he has now become older than his brother who died at the age of 26.
By his own admission, Terry is obsessed with death and, as he gets dressed and ready for the day, he becomes distracted by the ladybirds lying lifeless around the flat he shares with his girlfriend – remnants of an infestation – and he sets out to give them a fitting burial. Of course, the truth is that he is struggling to confront the death of his brother, and the play sees him work through his feelings of guilt and his lifelong envy at his brother’s early success and popularity. As he reminisces about their childhood, the play explores sibling rivalry and the love that often underpins it while also looking at the impact of mental health problems on family members.
Against the blank black canvas of Landor Space, Connie Burley’s set enhances the tone with a dark minimalist set, including a lone black-painted gnome. Despite the show’s darkness of look and theme, Dichmont’s writing has a lightness of touch and gentle humour, brought to life through an engaging solo performance by Steve Conlin under director Louisa Sanfey. With his morbid preoccupations and panic attacks, Terry is himself a cause for concern but, by the end, there is a glimmer of hope that while the war may not be over, there is a chance of peace.
Running to 12 August 2018