Lead actor, writer, and creator, David William Bryan, tells the true story of his uncle Arthur (nicknamed Joe) in In Loyal Company. This fascinating story tells a lesser heard side of the Second World War, as we see Joe go to serve in South East Asia.
Bryan must be commended for not just putting this together, but for performing the piece solo with little assistance from props/set. Bryan really brings each character to life, and proves himself to be a skilled actor switching seamlessly between accents, and giving each character enough signature traits to make them recognisable.
Bryan is excellently complimented by the sound and lighting, with the technical production heightening the performance. It’s through the synergy between the acting, lighting and sound that some of the most heartbreaking and gut-punching moments of the piece come to life – particularly the bombing that Joe experiences.
Alongside the war stories, the scenes that are set back in Joe’s native Liverpool help ground the piece in nostalgia and create heartwarming moments. Joe’s relationship with his family and his attempts to get the girl are sweet and make you wish for simpler times. At times, these can feel too sickly sweet, but it’s testament to Bryan for wanting to respectfully honour his family.
The Alexandra Palace theatre is a stunningly beautiful space; but due to the intimacy of this story, the space felt overwhelming. Joe’s story definitely feels more suited to smaller venues: so when Bryan directly connects with the audience it’s more powerful.
Bryan is taking the piece back to this year’s Edinburgh fringe, and for his performance alone it is worth a watch. Go and see if you want to hear more about the soldiers that served us in a differently than on the front line and to feel wistful for a bygone era.