The Bush theatre, London, until
Igor Memic’s Old Bridge is a thoughtful, well-acted play about the absurdity of war. It takes its name from the mighty stone structure that spans the Neretva River in Mostar in Bosnia since the time of the Ottomans. Its destruction – it’s since been rebuilt – became a metaphor for the war that ravaged the region in the early 1990s.
In 1988, when the area was still part of Yugoslavia, a young lad from out of town named Mili (Dino Kelly) dives from the bridge. He catches the eye of a sassy local girl named Mina (Saffron Coomber) and a romance begins. The couple hang out with their friends Sasha (Emilio Iannucci) and Leila (Rosie Gray), but soon Mili is uncomfortably aware of the talk locally of the Muslim and the Catholic sides to the river – he says it’s “creeping” him out – and soon, with a grim inevitability, bombs are raining down on them. The fine cast communicate very well a carefree youth where they get along irrespective of their faiths – or none – on the basis of a shared humanity and sense of humanity.
Memic, writing about the home town he left at the age of two, makes the point very well that it’s politicians and sometimes religious leaders who cause wars and hatred and not individuals who, by and large, if left to their own devices, get along very well.
The cast is completed by Susan Lawson-Reynolds, who narrates as an older, wiser Mina, looking back on what happened with a quiet despair. It’s fun, by the way, spotting stars of the future, and I rather think Dino Kelly’s name is worth remembering. He has about him the air of a leading man of Hollywood’s golden era.