Review of The Land of Might-Have-Been at Norwich Theatre Royal: New musical based on lives of Vera and Edward Brittain and featuring Ivor Novello’s songs is tender and touching
The Land of Might-Have-Been, Theatre Royal, Norwich
This new musical is a co-production between Norwich Theatre and the Buxton International Festival, and had its world premiere (to great applause) just a couple of weeks ago.
It is loosely based on the lives of campaigning Vera Brittain (mother of the equally indomitable politician Shirley Williams) and her brother Edward, and is built around songs of Ivor Novello.
Expect to hear Waltz Of My Heart, And Her Mother Came Too, My Life Belongs To You and We’ll Gather Lilacs.
Set just before and during the early days of the First World War, the production tells the story of a feisty young Vera, her musical brother and his two friends, Roland and Bobbie, until the devastating war in Europe destroyed their hopes and dreams - and resulted in Vera’s dedication to pacifism and equality.
It is beautifully done, tender and touching but equally jolly, with numbers such as The Glo Glo capturing the spirit of pre-war Britain.
Audrey Brisson excels as the questioning Vera and the three musketeers - Edward, Roland and Bobbie, respectively played by George Arvidson, Alexander Knox and Kit Esuruoso are tremendous, playing homage to all the young men who went to war and did not return.
It is hoped the show, which has the theatre’s chief executive, Stephen Crocker, as executive producer, will be picked up by other theatres and continue its journey.
Certainly, judging by the standing ovation it received, its future looks bright.
The show continues until Saturday. Visit www.norwichtheatre.org
Review by Sarah Hardy