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James Hugh Macdonald's Happy Warriors.

While there are already reviews elsewhere, and the event was posted by The Society during its run at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate, from the 28th of March until the 22nd of April, theatregoer Penny Bowden was also kind enough to send the editors her thoughts after seeing it for the first time, which we include below.

Happy Warriors is a must to see, not the least because this is the
first offering from the man who now holds the record as Britain's
oldest playwright, 91-year-old former soldier, diplomat, politics
lecturer and journalist James Hugh Macdonald who started writing it
after the death of his wife ten years ago.

It is based on the true story of the time during World War Two when
Randolph Churchill and Evelyn Waugh, who knew but didn't really like
each other, were billeted together in a farmhouse in the former
Yugoslavia with just an 80-year old peasant cook to look after them.
Randolph had been sent there at the behest of his father to beef up the
Yugoslav army battling it out with the Germans.

The only other facts the playwright knew for sure were that Randolph
got on Waugh's nerves, that in an attempt to get him off his back he
got him reluctantly to agree to read the Bible in a week--only for
Randolph to quote passages of it back at him ad infinitum, thus driving
him more bonkers--and that the waspish Waugh used his rapier wit to
give back as good as he got.

That nucleus of truth is skillfully expanded and embellished upon by
the playwright, who retains the cook in his play, but makes her into a
young, angry revolutionary resentful that she has to look after two
capitalist toffs when she'd rather be off killing Germans. The trio
keep you chortling as they comically wind each other up while dodging
air raids and the slings and arrows of each other's verbal assaults.

Marvellous performances from Simon Pontin as the caddish, grandiose,
whisky-guzzling, cigar-smoking (when he can get his hands on one)
Randolph and Neil Chinneck as the long-suffering Waugh. The icing on
this beautifully baked cake, though, is Martha Dancy as the cook whose
comical appearance and mispronunciation of practically everything,
especially "Randolopey"'s name, as she bangs around serving
yucky-looking food, is just a joy to watch.

An interview with the playwright: https://www.thereviewshub.com/interview-91-year-old-james-hugh-macdonald-on-his-debut-play-happy-warriors/

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Publication:Evelyn Waugh Studies
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Mar 22, 2018
Words:400
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