My Boy Jack

My Boy Jack is a play by David Haig that focuses on the writer Rudyard Kipling and his son Jack. Set around the time of the First World War, Kipling is anxious to enlist his son in the army and is willing to pull any strings necessary in order to do so – overlooking Jack’s short sight. He is successful, which pleases both him and Jack, the latter being desperate to get away from home at any cost, but horrifies Jack’s sister Elsie, who is deeply concerned for her brother’s welfare.

Jack is sent to the trenches, but during a major attack he goes missing. His distraught parents are left to try and piece together Jack’s last movements, hoping to discover that he is alive after all, but in doing so they uncover more horrible truths about the carnage of the Western Front.

The emotional journey of writer Rudyard Kipling from patriotic Imperialist to bereaved parent is powerfully explored, as is the effect of the war on those who had to fight in it. There is one memorable scene set in the trenches but for the most part, the play employs a domestic setting. The piece is capably performed by The Hutton Players, with particularly strong performances from William Wells as Kipling and Ben Sylvester as his son Jack. A worthwhile play that I’m glad I made the effort to see.

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