(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 4/28.)
I first came across Cat Jones's 60-minute play when it was submitted for one of the playwrights' bursaries annually awarded by Pearson. I'm happy to say that this story of a soldier trying to adjust to civilian life after serving in Afghanistan and Iraq proves every bit as gripping on the stage, where it's won prizes on the Edinburgh and Adelaide fringe, as it did on the page.
Given that Jones's play derives from discussions with ex-servicemen doing time in Doncaster, you might expect it to go easy on its screwed-up hero. If anything, it does the reverse, since the returning Ray is seen as a misogynist, racist bully. He hammers on the door of a backstreet pub demanding to be let in just as fiercely as he once battered his ex-wife Carla who is lurking inside. Having gained admission, the blood-spattered Ray not only proves to be on the run: he also locks the doors, and proceeds to intimidate the teenage barmaid and timorous publican, and forcibly try to get Carla to flee to Brighton with him and their two children.