Five crashed airmen (their Lancaster bomber having been shot down during World War II) hide out in a deserted schoolroom in Holland; one is severely injured. There is a tussle as to whether to leave him and make a run for it or stick with their injured comrade. Then a female interloper (the riveting Caoimhe Blair) arrives at the door. Is she, as she claims, a German working with the Resistance or somebody not to be trusted?
This is Green Tea Productions’ version of Ciaran McConville’s Immortal, a tremendously polished short play with an imaginative set (May Curtiss) and some fine performances from a youthful, ensemble cast. The standout is surely Sam St Clair as Cockney Dicky Dixon, the company joker in the pack, who helps the others (Alex Heath, Gwithian Evans, Ollie Powell and Callum Cronin) retain their humanity in the grimmest of circumstances. There is a wonderfully unexpected twist at the end although some in the audience might find it a schmaltzy step too far. The story is reminiscent of Hitchcock’s film Lifeboat and maybe director Nicole Burley relies too heavily on the old 1940s war films with their stereotyped military personnel in extremis – the brash one, the bookish one, the lovable working class one, the coward and so on. But it’s an absorbing 50 minutes that packs a huge punch.
Each bloodied crew member – there’s some gruesomely realistic make-up – tells their story of how they became fliers. Dicky, heartbreakingly, recounts how his family was wiped out in the London Blitz and would rather continue fighting the Nazis in the sky than take compassionate leave. As they josh and bicker with each other they hide their emotions amid the tragedy of war. It’s a pity the actors also had to battle with the thrum of the air-con system.