Little Boy

Little Boy by John Foster (1)

James Unsworth as Hiroshima bombing veteran Claude Eatherly in John Foster’s play Little boy

Little Boy by John Foster: Bare E-ssentials New Writing Night - Wednesday  13th May, 2020

BAFTA winning Bournemouth playwright John Foster’s Little Boy is one of a series of short plays offered an online platform by Encompass Productions.

The company’s new writing night, Bare E-ssentials, aimed to showcase  four stripped back dramas designed to highlight cutting edge writing with minimal distraction.

The original plan was to stream the dramas direct via YouTube. Unfortunately Foster’s play - a probing monologue exploring the mental conflict of one of the WWII pilot’s engaged in the Atomic  bombing mission on Hiroshima - was one of two works scuppered by technical issues.

The plays, filmed live, were robbed of their sound and sadly the evening had to be pulled halfway through. Fortunately the mini-dramas still exist online.

Little Boy - the title refers to the A-bomb itself - is set post-war and finds pilot Claude Eatherly incarcerated in a mental institution wrestling with his demons. Once a cool, poker playing tough guy - an alpha male - perhaps he too is now just a little boy.

As pilot of the B-29 weather-plane that accompanied the Hiroshima mission he was not directly responsible for dropping the bomb. But his guilt over the blast that destroyed a city and instantly killed 80,000 men, women and chidren, is seared on his soul.

James Unsworth plays Claude as a man wrecked by the unforeseen consequences of enlisting in the US Army Air Service. His dreams of being an All American Hero shattered by the realisation of the horror he as helped to unleash. It’s a powerful performance as he squirms in mental anguish and agonises over the nightmare visions of melted faces and vaporised babies that continue to haunt him. 

Directed by Liam Fleming, Little Boy makes the very most of Foster’s carefully constructed words. He nimbly navigates Claude’s nightmare journey into madness exploring along the way how ‘heroes’ who don’t play the game can be turned into traitors.

Check it out! Of the four plays showcased by Bare E-ssentials  this was the one that benefitted most from the  stripped-back, distraction free format. No fancy stage design or props just Unsworth in a broken down out building of some sort - visual shorthand for the mess and chaos of his life.

The other plays are The Big 30 by Teresa Esdpejo and two plays Vintage and Radio Foreplay by Lucy Kaufman. Here’s a link to all four.

Jeremy Miles

© Jeremy Miles 2021