A surprisingly uplifting and positive piece of theatre emphasising the camaraderie created by people pulling together in wartime.
Taken from the oral testimonies of World War One survivors held at the Imperial War Museum, the accounts are vivid: the huge scale of losses, the dreadful effects of mustard gas and the horror of drowning in the trenches. But this is all made bearable to the audience by the down to earth narrative and the soldier’s sense of humour. Strangely, the sergeant even admits to missing the war when it is all over.
Kitty, the female munitions worker, gives the view from home. Her husband is recruited, without warning, during their night out at a music hall – all the men in the audience were marched on stage,and given a Kings shilling. She describes the danger of her work, the inconvenience of her skin and hair turning yellow but how she misses the joy of singing in the factory choir.
The changing backdrop of posters, art and landscapes has been thoughtfully curated.
All of the actors play their roles convincingly – Julian Sands gives a very sensitive and convincing performance, and Robert Vaughn’s delightful appearance as ‘the Yank who saves the day’ reminds us of how many other nations bravely joined the war effort and the scale of their losses.
Words: Sue Hitchen
Forgotten Voices, Pleasance Courtyard, Jul 30 – Aug 25 (not 5, 12, 19), 13:30 (also 22:30 on Aug 4)