Paul Anderson, review of Jackets II by Edward Bond (Bush), Tribune, 9 March 1990
Edward Bond’s new play, at the Bush for a short season in a production by the Leicester Haymarket, is a dour polemical herald of proletarian insurgency to come, set in a riot-torn city “somewhere in Europe” where the army officers are Old Harrovians.
The plot is simple. Phil, a young rioter, loots clothes for his mother and her friend, Mrs Tebham, whose son Brian, Phil’s childhood friend, is now a soldier, posted to his home town to quell the insurgency. Brian’s superiors want a martyr, and they decide to send him to certain death in a rendezvous with an insurgent.
Predictably, the insurgent at the rendezvous turns out to be Phil, who doesn’t kill Brian but makes him feel so bad about being a class traitor that he shoots himself instead. Phil leaves his jacket on the corpse, and the police call his mother to identify the body. But Mrs Lewis becomes hysterical in the morgue, and it is left to Mrs Tebham, there to support her friend, to identify her own son as the dead man.
Bond manages to be genuinely shocking at times, and the actors all do an excellent job. But the message that Belfast is coming to Britain and that the proletariat had better be armed is too apocalyptic by half.
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