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May 24, 2010 | by  | in Arts Theatre |
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Lullaby Jock

Lullaby Jock

Lullaby Jock is the story of John ‘Jock’ Ferry told by and through his son Simon Ferry. Jock fought in World War Two and gained his nickname by singing the rest of the troops to sleep in the trenches. He later taught and raised a sizeable family—Simon is one of nine children.

Presented as Simon’s speech at Jock’s funeral with quick and extended dips into flash-back and re-enactment—all done solo by Simon. Working within Tim Spite’s distinctive direction, Simon gives a stellar performance, always holding our attention, never letting the audience drift as they are so want to do during solo plays.

Lullaby Jock is largely a triumph of tone and feeling. In it’s writing Spite and Ferry have found just the right balance of funny and serious. The sequences describing Jock’s experiences in the war are largely well handled, if occasionally they do slip off shocking into morbid. There is a nice playing of Jock’s inability to take anything seriously and how much that may be a symptom of wider issues.

Ferry’s performance is very good, bordering on excellent, with really only the slight limitations of the script holding him back. Several scenes have simply too many character changes in them and become a lot more about Ferry going from one character to another than the actual content of the scene.

At the end of the day, Lullaby Jock is a play about PTSD, about what happens to someone when they come back from the unimaginable horrors of war. In expressing that and exploring that is where Lullaby Jock really finds its strength. A small myriad of technical problems on opening night (which I am more than sure will have been ironed out now) revealed the true complexity of what on the surface seems to be quite a simple work.

And this is Jock‘s only real issue, it just seems to be doing a little too much. A few more story strands than are needed are present, making the resolution of the whole show somewhat messy and prolonged.

Apart from that, Lullaby Jock is a measured success. It is very far from any kind of failure but a notch or two off of real, total success but still well worth your time and attention.

18—29 May / Downstage theatre / www.downstage.co.nz
wri., perf. Simon Ferry
wri., dir. Tim Spite

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About the Author ()

Uther was one of the two arts editors in 2009. He was the horoscopier and theatre writer in 2010. Alongside Elle Hunt, Uther was coeditor in 2011.

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