Some might question whether we need a theatrical presentation of these stories when we have documentaries, books, films and many other ways of finding out the details. To my mind, there is something very powerful about hearing the voices of real people resonating down the decades. There are only a handful of people still alive who can recall the Great War – this number will only diminish. We need to remember these events. We have a duty to remember the sacrifice and suffering.
All the actors acquit themselves with great skill and compassion. They take us through the events with clarity, humour and genuine emotion. Matthew Kelly holds the stage with his sense of mischief and is well matched by Tim Woodward as the former NCO.
The rest of the cast (Belinda Lang, Rupert Frazer and Stephen Crossley) are equally accomplished in capturing the essences of their characters. I particularly enjoyed the arrival of Mr Crossley – the only American voice to be heard. He arrives very late in the play and provokes a series of interesting reactions from the other participants.
It is a deceptively simple piece of theatre – 5 actors on a basic set, very few props – but they tell a powerful story with clarity. For anyone who studied the poetry of the First World War or who has a passing interest in the history of the period, this will greatly add to your knowledge of the realities experienced by the individuals. If you have even just a glimmer of concern about the human condition, this will open your eyes to the nature of war.
The book on which this production is based is an important record of real experiences. This stage adaptation gives these forgotten voices another chance to be heard, and - hopefully - for the lessons contained within the stories they tell to be heeded.