A wonderful comedy written and performed by Mark Carey. It’s “Dad’s Army meets The Vicar of Dibley!”
George Crocker is keen to liven up his dull life so he decides to join the village Drama Club. What happens then turns his world upside down!
Set during the Second World War this original, and inspiring show is suitable for anyone 9 years old and above.
“The quality of acting and writing is as good as any you will see. A deep and nuanced story. Every character drips with personality and charm.” The Cheltenham Standard
“A great little show. It’s “Dads’ Army meets “The Vicar of Dibley”. London Metro
“A delight, a lovely and very humorous play that fully merited the standing ovation.” Stratford Herald
“Mark Carey shows amazing dexterity and comic skill in playing all 17 parts.” The Stage
“Into the Breach” – The Rondo Theatre, Bath.
“Bath Echo” Reviewer: John Christopher Wood. Star rating: ****
This one-man, but multi-character play, written, directed and performed by Mark Carey (though partially also written by William Shakespeare) contains multitudes.
It’s a demonstration of acting skill; it’s a resume of the Bard’s Henry V; it’s a commentary on 4 wars – the Boer one, World Wars One and Two, and the Hundred Years war; it’s at once anti-war, and pro-war; and also, obliquely references the performer’s own family.
Where to start? The conceit of the play centres around the character of George Crocker, an odd-job man living in Devon in 1943, who, without any acting experience, joins his local drama group and is involved in its production of Henry V.
There’s a magnificently old-school thespian director; a village idiot who’s actually a savant; a nice lady who makes costumes and plays the love interest in this play and in Henry V; a mad choleric and drunken retired major; and more.
Carey jumps between these characters with consummate skill, in a performance which encompasses comedy, pathos, rage and poignancy; punctuated with the beauty of Shakespeare’s own lyricism and bombast.
It culminates in the nationalistic rant of the “God for Harry, England and Saint George” speech, which in these ‘Faragiste’ times is a slightly chilling ending – though whether that is Carey’s intention is left to us to ponder.
Altogether a remarkable and highly original piece of theatre.
“Into the Breach” The Bear Pit. Stratford upon Avon.
“The Stratford Herald.” Reviewer. Sandy Holt.
“Into a thousand parts divide one man”, the words of Shakespeare in the prologue of Henry V, but they could easily be used to describe Mark Carey’s one man show “Into the Breach” which is touring the country.
Aptly, the show strongly focuses on Shakespeare’s historic play – even though the story revolves around one George Crocker - an amateur actor whose ambition is to play Widow Twanky alongside his mate “Ticker”. This may seem a bit of light folly but this play, written directed and acted by Carey, is full of substance. Carey obviously knows his Shakespeare. The cleverly written script is full of references to other works of the Bard, shows an understanding of his writing and touches on Shakespearean themes.
We see Hamlet, iambic pentameter, themes of war, death, love, power and an acute observation of character.
Carey neatly ties in his own family story – mainly focused on his grandfather’s experiences as well as other colourful characters we meet along the way. This being the 100thanniversary of the great war, the show seems even more poignant and he has woven in incidents surrounding childhood experiences and further experiences of World War Two.
But the magic of this production is how Carey pitches it. Set in a Devonshire village, the basic backdrop allows the actor to pop behind the screen (Mr Benn like) to transform his character.
And what is remarkable is that, despite being played by the same person, each character takes on his or her own identity in a thoroughly believable way – whether it be the village idiot Ticker who is really a literary genius, costume mistress Gloria Stubbs who helps out with wardrobe at the local am’ dram’ society or Crocker himself.
Carey certainly has talent – this show will make you laugh, cry, and enjoy a debate on Shakespeare.
“Into the Breach” Loft Theatre, Leamington Spa.
“Leamington Courier” Review by Charles Essex
A chair, a vanity table, an orange box and a simple backdrop, and the players of Lowford Drama Club took us from the court of Henry V to Agincourt. Or rather Mark Carey as five main characters in his one man play transported us from wartime rural Devon to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and medieval France.
Simply donning a hat or a pair of glasses but predominantly using different voices had the audience spellbound.
Mark, who wrote the play as well as performed it, was word perfect, his acting flawless. The village handyman, George, recounted the progress of the rehearsals and the play as he transformed gradually from panto Dame to the part of Chorus and thence to the lead role under the direction of pretentious ex actor Simon.
The script cleverly interwove George’s narrative with extracts from Henry V.
It was an indication of Mark’s incredible acting talent that George oscillated between different roles as he gave the famous soliloquies with gravitas, and yet the love scene duet between King Henry and French Princess Katherine played b prim Miss Stubbs was marvellously delivered.
Mark’s evocation of the Major who majored in malapropisms and friend Tick with obsessive and Tourette’s tendencies completed the cast.
Witty programme notes of each character added to the amdram feel of the production.
The intimacy of the small studio theatre was the perfect setting for we few, we happy few, to watch this play.
Mark recently enjoyed deserved critical acclaim for his play; “Keeping our end up” at the Loft and this production confirms his talent as an actor and a playwright.
“Into the Breach” The Boathouse Theatre, St Ives.
Another excellent production at St Ives’ Boathouse Theatre.
As those of us who have fallen in love with the St Ives Boathouse Theatre know, not having space is no limitation to the size of a cast. To misquote the Bard; the actors who perform within the girdle of these walls sure know how to put our imaginary forces to work. Mark Carey proves superb as all the members of the Lowford Amateur Dramatic Society (LADS). Plus Widow Twankey, Chorus and, indeed, Henry V himself. Written, evolved over several years, and performed by Mark Carey this one man play is described by him as “one mans battle with Shakespeare. A heart-warming drama of love, war and odd jobs. ”
There is plenty to amuse in Mark’s performance but this is also a very intelligent piece about it’s central character George Crocker, a world war one veteran and village odd job man coming to terms with the past traumas of war and loss. With NHS Doctors now adopting “social prescribing” for our wellbeing and numerous charities getting today’s war veterans into activities like surfing, George’s story is bang on message. His is a journey of self-discovery and is subtly helped along the way (maybe) by other members of LADS: the director and former professional actor Simon Trottley Barns; costume maker (and Georges love interest) Miss Gloria Stubbs; Mayor Frederick Alfred Rhodes Palmer DSO and bar, now permanently befuddled by drink, who once played Colin in “Two Gentlemen called Veronica” and Georges mate Arthur “Ticker” Timepiece who is somewhere very obscure on the autistic spectrum.
Georges theatrical ambitions go no further than panto’. He auditions for Widow Twankey only to be told they are doing Henry V. Not understanding Shakespeare he’s not at all keen but finds himself cast in the role of “Chorus”.
Gradually George comes to understand the language of the Bard and sees relationships in the play with his wartime experiences. Shakespeare, he realises has a good understanding of war. He identifies the story of the boy in Henry V with a similar experience of his own. This part of the play is based on Marks own Grandfather during World war two. “Into the Breach” concludes with George taking on the part of Henry V . Having come to terms with his past his wartime experiences inform the role and the production is a great success. The night I saw the play was an extra performance as the run at the festival had sold out.