David William Bryan as Arthur Robinson
David William Bryan as Arthur Robinson

Fresh from an outstanding run at the Edinburgh Fringe, David William Bryan brought his self-written and self-performed production In Loyal Company to a sold out Lichfield Garrick.

David William Bryan as Arthur Robinson

The show tells the incredible true story of missing World War II soldier and prisoner of War Arthur ‘Joe’ Robinson, written and performed by his great-nephew, David.

May 1941. Hitler’s bombs rain on Liverpool. Local packer, Arthur Robinson, joins up becoming a private in the 18th reconnaissance division.  Deployed to Singapore, his ship is destroyed by Japanese dive bombers on arrival. Arthur is declared missing.

This extraordinary true story of survival is a tour-de-force war epic.

David gave a relentlessly energetic performance, supported by some superb lights and effects by Jonny Ryan.

The show started with a feeling that I was about to witness the superb talents of Bryan rip through the show, and that he did.

It’s a none-stop performance, which mixes the fragility of a terrible war experience, with the pride that this man and his comrades didn’t give up.

That Bryan is able to bring to life the warmth, love and tragedies of Robinson’s journey, is a testament to a man who is gaining a reputation as one of the best solo show performers the theatre is blessed with.

“Real warmth”

There was real warmth and humour as he starts out his life at home in Liverpool and then war starts to hit home – almost literally.

Under Hitler’s bombing of the Cammell Laird shipyard, Joe enlists and becomes a private in the 18th reconnaissance division. He is deployed to Singapore, however his ship is destroyed by Japanese dive bombers on arrival, and Joe is declared missing.

He then finds himself building the friendships to last a lifetime and building the hated railway of death.

Joe’s health starts to deteriorate, and the story continues to keep the audience rapt, yet there is humour in it all, and a real personality coming through.

The show came all-too-soon to an end, and the audience gave a grateful and warm ovation. For those that stayed, David then took questions and answers from the audience afterwards, giving some revealing and interesting insights into the character of Joe, and the writing of the performance.

David is engaging, funny and the show is a big hit, without wallowing in a misty-eyes war story. A genius.