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Published: 30 August 2007
When fame and talent collide (in a good way)


King’s Head Theatre

THE current wash of celebrities, Hollywood actors and reality TV ‘stars’ overrunning the West End stage is already well charted – now in Lone Star / PVT Wars the phenomena has trickled down to the fringe.
The King’s Head double bill of American playwright James Mc­Lure’s post-Vietnam studies features not one but two names worthy of the pages of Heat magazine, out of a cast of three. “Shane Richie? I loved him in EastEnders!”
“James Jagger? Ooh, he’s just like his father!”
Though facetious comparisons may well be inevitable, this fact should not overshadow the players themselves, who are uniformly great, regardless of who they are.
Set in the backyard of a lowly Texan bar, Lone Star finds Vietnam veteran Roy (Richie) drinking himself into a stupor for want of something to do while he lectures his quiet younger brother Ray (an excellent William Meredith) on the horrors of the war and the joys of women.
Between bullying gawky, pencil-necked Cletis (Jagger) and dispensing crumbs of wisdom such as “nipples are like bicycles”, Roy slowly emerges as a tragic, lonely fool whose stint in the war has aged him without moving him forward with the times. He is the last jock left in a small town where all his friends “have married, moved or shot themselves in the foot,” still obsessing over the pink Thunderbird car from his youth.
Richie feels like he is still growing into the character of Roy, but he is fully fledged and magnificent as the twitching, genitalia-obsessed Silvio in the second half’s Private Wars (spelt with the military ‘PVT’). Fresh from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Richie has the manic schizoid turn down pat, careering around the stage with quivering eyeballs while he discusses the merits
of wearing loose-fitting underwear, or even better, a kilt.
McLure’s warm-hearted take on three GI’s recovering from their war-inflicted injuries in an army hospital is touching without becoming sentimental and brilliantly funny without dulling its keen observations.
“If everybody kept fighting their own private wars and stopped sticking their noses into other people’s, we’d be alright,” mutters Gately as he belatedly attempts to fix a radio that loses parts as quickly as he can steal radios to replace them.
Blessed with such rich material, the whole cast shines. James Jagger, who plays the snobbish intellectual Natwick labouring under a massive sense of failure induced by uber-rich, successful parents, has never been on the professional stage before, but he proved himself more than worthy.
Oh, and did I mention he’s the son of Mick Jagger?
Until September 23
020 7226 1916

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