A well-crafted play with a good cast is the perfect theatrical recipe — and that is what was delivered by Dev’s Army as part of Oxfringe.

Set in the Irish Republic during the Second World War, it focuses on a band of the Home Guard. These are ‘Dev’s Army’ (named after President de Valera), who patrol the coast watching out for spies, renegades and other nefarious types, with little support or equipment.

The play, in fact, kicks off with the excitement of the delivery of a handful of bullets to go with their one gun. Their only transport to get help if needed is a bicycle with a buckled wheel. It’s a lonely and isolated outpost — an atmosphere brilliantly brought to life by Stuart Lee’s first-rate script and Christian Taylor’s evocative set.

Mind you, it wouldn’t be a good idea to let the youngest fellow, Michael, anywhere near live ammunition. He’s what the Irish would call an ‘eejit’ — an excellent performance by Daniel McClelland, both funny and touching, cleverly avoided the pitfalls of cliché.

Two older soldiers are also on hand to keep things in order. The sharp and smart Dermot has gained his experience in the trenches of the British Army during the Great War. The other, garrulous Paddy, had (allegedly) taken part in the Easter Rising. Matt Lanigan and Richard Sails (above) gave excellent performances as this pair, cleverly bringing to the fore discussion of the political tensions during this fascinating period of Irish history, which is possibly little known in this country. The fourth member of the cast was Wayne Allsop, creepy and enigmatic as the mysterious man washed up on their beach, who unleashes murderous tensions within the group.

This was an all-round excellent production, with some truly gripping plot twists.