Filled with darkly comedic moments, Immortal is a drama about five crew members of a downed Lancaster bomber, stranded behind enemy lines in Holland in November 1944. The play begins with a recording of the crew talking over their radios; this is cut off by the sound of soldiers shouting in German, a woman crying out “bitte, bitte” (please, please), and finally a gunshot. The lights go up and five airmen rush on stage.
The well-dressed set is that of an abandoned schoolroom. One man is injured; a desk is swept clear for him to lie on, and his cries mingle with a great deal of confused shouting as the other men desperately patch him up. Once a resemblance of order has been restored by the American pilot, Cliff, the crew must figure out what to do next. Their training states that they should get far away from the crash site as quickly as possible, but it’s clear that the injured engineer, John, is too severely wounded to be moved. He may in fact be dying.
The script does a great job of establishing the men’s names, positions and characters through these early heated discussions. With the decision made, Dicky, the wireless operator, begins to nervously crack jokes and ribs the pilot for being American. The crew are cold, and in order to distract themselves, begin to reminisce – often humorously – about how they got where they are, thus forming the middle section of the play.
The only thing that they seem reluctant to talk about, even amongst themselves, is the crash itself. But before this strange detail can be explored further, there is a knock at the door: it is a German woman named Anna, who claims to be a part of the Dutch resistance. Her arrival is viewed with deep suspicion by the crew, leading to a devastating emotional climax. This is where the script really shines. Everything clicks into place, but until this moment, you never realise anything is out of place.
Anna turns up late in the play. Her character provides an insight on what it feels like to be have been bombed from the German point of view, contrasting well with the crew’s own experiences. But, overall, her character feels a little superfluous to the production. Despite excellent acting, she is not as well integrated into the narrative.
But that’s a small critique of a wonderful script, performed superbly by a very professional cast. The sometimes-harrowing stories and the dark humour keep you on an emotional rollercoaster. Immortal also has exceptionally high production values, and the combination of all these factors leads to a great show. Highly recommended.