The play centres on class divisions which causes problems for the conscripts and the officers. 'Pip' is a conscript from a privileged background and is caught between the officer class and his fellow lowely men. He tries to become one of the boys and rejects his middle-class background as unimportant. He does not like the way the officers treat the other men simply because they come from a lowely background. So 'Pip' is caught in between trying to be accepted by the other conscripts while the officers are trying to single him out for a high ranking position which they believe befits his class status.
The play has many small acts that are entertaining and interesting but the story is not in depth enough to make it believable. For example the character 'Smiley is not very disciplined in training so the officers start to put pressure on him with bullying tactics. He reacts to this by desperately wanting to leave the camp and tries to abscond. There is no explanation about Smiley's behaviour as to why he does not fall in to line and so stop the bullying?
The popular press have mixed feelings about the play. BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE Of THE TIMES says that the play left him feeling that it was and wasn't worth a revival. CHARLES SPENCER of THE DAILY TELEGRAPH describes the author as "second-rate". NICOLAS DE JONGH remarks that the play is "all period and not much of a piece" STEVE GRANT from TIME OUT liked it better , describing this production as " pulsating, physical and expertly choreographed."
This drama has a large cast of 21 men with fine performances from Julian Glover as the 'Wing Commander' and Rupert Penry-Jones as ' Pip'. It is a watchable drama, but you won't be rushing to see again.