After Mary Rose
Collaborating with director Nicholas Bone of Magnetic North, playwright D Jones has given JM Barrie’s 1920 ghost story Mary Rose a dust down so it has less of the creaky haunted house about it and more of the privations of war. But in structure and detail, she sticks closely to the original – so closely, in fact, it’s odd for her to claim sole authorship at all.
Nalini Chetty is suitably juvenile, if overly emphatic, as Mary Rose, a young woman with an unfortunate tendency to vanish – first for 21 days, then 21 years – without ageing a day. The real dramatic question is how someone would cope if they found themselves younger than their own son, especially a son suffering the post-traumatic stress of World War II. But this idea, a dark inversion of Peter Pan, crops up so late in the play there’s no time to explore it.
The result is an ineffectual conclusion to what is otherwise an absorbing piece of theatre. By contrasting the soldier’s experiences on the frontline with the whimsical romance between Mary Rose and her fiancé, Jones sets up an expectation of a clash between the personal and the political. But she fails to find a dramatic vehicle for her ideas about responsibility and evasion, leaving a show that promises more than it delivers.
Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, Sat 2 May; Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Wed 6–Sat 9 May; Dundee Rep, Wed 13 May. Seen at Howden Park Centre, Livingston, Fri 24 Apr