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Oh What a Lovely War on the Westacre stage

The pioneering 1963 musical Oh What a Lovely War opens at Westacre Theatre on Wednesday, August 8.

The thought-provoking work dramatically affected people’s attitude towards the awful conflict of World War One and provided a lasting legacy on the way that contemporary theatre looks and sounds.

Now, 55 years after Joan Littlewood’s imaginative production, it still has a vitally important story to tell and readily continues to court controversy.

Marking the centenary of the end of the First World War, Westacre Theatre revives the show which carries on reaching wide audiences.

OWALW (3269819)
OWALW (3269819)

From the viewpoint of the common soldier and anchored in the tradition of an end-of-the-pier seaside revue, it cleverly counterpoises popular ‘Tommy tunes’ of the time with the dreadfully grim battle statistics.

In reflecting on the consequences of the Great War, literally millions of people grieved for the loss of their loved ones.

Understandably, there was a huge reluctance to even begin to question the purpose of the warfare.

OWALW (3242931)
OWALW (3242931)

However, by the 1960s and overshadowed by the more recent World War Two, a younger generation became suspicious about unthinking deference to all authority which then prompted an objective re-examination of the 1914-18 conflict.

“The Long, Long Trail” on the BBC Home Service in December 1961 transferred very effectively to the stage with massive success – never before had the disillusionment of the typical soldier been represented through popular entertainment.

The film version of Oh What a Lovely War came out in 1969 and was directed by Richard Attenborough.

OWALW (3242929)
OWALW (3242929)

Opening on August 8 for eight performances, Westacre Theatre’s production illustrates the conflicting emotions surrounding a truly horrific war in which it is believed that around 18 million people died and 23 million more were wounded.

Shows are on August 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, and 18 with curtain up at 7.30pm; tickets are available online at www.westacretheatre.com or through the box office on 01760 755800.

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