Moving production of anti-war classic
Following on the success of two excellent productions at Westacre Theatre (Gogol’s The Government Inspector and The 39 Steps), comes an impressive and moving performance of Oh! What a Lovely War, based on the stage musical originated by Charles Chilton as a radio play, The Long Long Trail in 1961 and transferred to stage by Gerry Raffles in partnership with Joan Littlewood and her Theatre Workshop in 1963.
The show consists of popular songs from the time of The First World War, many are Music Hall numbers,(including Oh! It’s a Lovely War from which the piece get’s it’s title).
The Westacre Theatre Company’s production marks the end of the First World War 100 years ago.
The talented cast effectively conveyed the misplaced enthusiasm and excitement for the conflict initially (with a few dissenting voices), but as time passed the true reality of the war became apparent and the musical numbers, set pieces and horrific casualty statistics (‘typed’ on screens above the stage) reflected this.
This show is not an easy one to bring off, it can drag a little at times, and it requires rapid changes of mood and movement, characters speaking in a few foreign languages, and a larger than life, exaggerated style of acting in places, but this seems to have been mastered effortlessly by the cast, no doubt with hours of rehearsal beforehand.
Quieter and reflective scenes were movingly presented,(Christmas at the Front especially memorable), and Raymond Rose’s surreal portrayal of the virtually incoherent Sargent Major and his other parts were outstanding. David Connor also gave a fine performance during the show but really all the cast gave of their best.
Once again thanks to all at Westacre, both on and off stage, and behind the scenes, for making this theatrical occasion so memorable.
Matt and Sadie Grist directed and the show continues until Saturday, August 18.