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Based on the James Jones novel and subsequent Burt Lancaster/Frank Sinatra movie, it follows the Hawaii-based soldiers of G Company two weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Restless and itching for action, their main concern is a boxing tournament that Captain Holmes (Alan Turkington) is anxious to win. His frustrated wife, Karen (Carley Stenson) is having an affair with his second in command, Warden (Adam Rhys-Charles).
When newcomer Prewitt (Joanthon Bentley) arrives trailing a reputation as a superb soldier and ex-boxer the temperature rises. Rice’s lyrics are tough and clever with trace echoes of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific but stropped to a more macho edge.
Brayson’s music keeps faith with the period – blues, jazz, torch ballads – and is well integrated into the martial milieu. The atmosphere simmers with barely suppressed violence and not-at-all suppressed sex.
A well-drilled Brit cast under US director Brett Smock convinces as US soldiers who can sing and do push-ups at the same time. Eve Polycarpou is all cynical swagger as the local brothel madame Mrs Kipfer, Desmonda Cathabel’s fatalistic prostitute Lorene and Jonny Amies as smartmouthed Maggio add weight and texture to the ensemble.
Touch and tender, it is laced with sensuality and period attitudes to homosexuality that are deliberately discomfiting. A damn fine bit of kit.
From Here to Eternity is now playing at Charing Cross Theatre until December 17. For tickets call: 08444 930 650, or visit the theatre’s website.
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