Greyhounds (4 stars)

This article is from 2018


Atmospheric and entertaining evocation of a WWII village

Following a time-honoured tradition of a play within a play (think Chekhov, Brecht, A Midsummer Night's Dream), Greyhounds takes Shakespeare's triumphant Henry V, a tale of battle, loss and that famous 'band of brothers', and adapts it to the fraught setting of a small English village in 1941. Villagers are putting on a lacklustre production of Henry V to raise money for a Spitfire; an aptly selected play for a war-weary village, although one that occasionally produces parallels and metaphors that are too laboured.

Yet when Greyhounds isn't working too hard to convince the audience of the links between Henry V and this curious, well-sketched cast of characters, it is a treat. The setting is skilfully rendered: costumes, a few choice posters and the hint of busy if stultifying village life beyond the confines of the drama production all evoke a convincing sense of WWII life.

Familiar but still intriguing tropes of the war feature, and the characters – who range from downed pilot to Fiona Primrose's brilliantly endearing displaced London chorus girl – are entertainingly portrayed. Playwright Laura Crow's turn as the socially awkward Katherine is a highlight, as she dryly delivers comedic lines and fails to understand the nuances of life around her.

theSpace on the Mile, until 18 Aug (not 12), 8.15pm, £10.


Drama entwining Shakespeare's famous story of 'warlike Harry' with the everyday trials and tribulations of small village life during WWII.