Writer: John Kitchen
Director: Gary Phillpott
Reviewer: Rebecca Taylor
A captivating play from start to finish, this will have you drawn in from the dramatic first scene. The premiere of this performance was a fascinating and enjoyable watch, keeping the audience in silence for the duration.
This one man, one act play gives an honest account of life in the trenches during the First World War, following Stuart Parker, a telegraph key operator from his first day on the front line to the day the war ended. He encounters camaraderie and tragedy in equal measure as he endures the hardships which abound, but he has his own personal struggles to deal with alongside his duties, both before and after the war. A thoroughly real, and well thought-out character, a real credit to the talents of writer John Kitchen.
Jonny McClean, who plays Parker and an array of characters which come across the key operator throughout his time on the front line, is a truly talented actor. His performance is sincere and believable from the start, with an attention to detail shown in each individual character. McClean shows enthusiasm and a subtlety for each character’s nuances, even when conversing between more than one. The play also shows director Gary Phillpott’s gifted eye for keeping the performance authentic and perceptive.
The set is well-considered with little details adding to the overall performance. The one set fits all scenes, which means there is no distraction from the acting. Harmonica music of the era begins and ends the performance and helps to set the scene, with the only sound effects during the performance being appropriate gunfire noises in keeping with the storyline. This leaves moments of eerie silence, all adding to the mood and atmosphere. The lighting is superb in creating the different tones throughout the play, switching from one mood to another to suit the character or moment in the storyline. This also helps the audience to identify which character is in focus.
This is a well-written play which is both brilliantly acted and directed. A must-see for those who enjoy gritty honest theatre with an historical point of view.
Photo: Sean Goldthorpe | Runs until 5th March