Small and perfectly, plastically formed

One man’s battle with a tiny Sherman tank makes for charming theatre

Fri, Sep 13, 2013, 13:37

Small Plastic Wars

Bewley’s Cafe Theatre

****

A story of one man and his model tanks, the subject matter of Pat McGrath’s comedy is small in scale, but is imbued with a surprising universality. McGrath plays Joe, whose interest in constructing military miniatures apparently outweighs any concerns about family or income. This obsession provides the comic springboard to dissect the absurdities of middle-aged male pursuits, as does Joe’s quest to best a hobbyist nemesis. But the play is built on a bittersweet bedrock of unrealised dreams, stalled marriages and the impact of recession, which denudes Joe’s self-esteem and skews his priorities.

McGrath’s wonderful performance does justice to his hilarious, well-paced script, and if the play may have a particular resonance for those familiar with Joe’s challenge of building a 1/35 scale Sherman tank (full disclosure: this reviewer did so as a youth), its humane quality and deftly-judged humour transcends boundaries.

Ends Sept 18