Writer: Will Huggins
Director: Daniel Llewelyn-Williams
Reviewer: Tom Ralphs
Will Huggins recounts his great uncle’s experiences as a World War One soldier using extracts of an interview recorded with the Imperial War Museum before his death. It’s a story that Huggins himself knew little about while his relative was alive and it’s also a story that omits some of the known horrors that soldiers lived through. It’s these omissions, as much as what is in his account, that provides the draw of this piece.
Edgar Huggins wanted to go to Australia to work in the outback. He joined the army as many young men did in the early twentieth century and soon found himself on the frontline as war broke out. Huggins Jnr gives details of the early years of his life and the full story of the battles of Ypres and the Somme. The lives lost, and the ill-prepared, chaotic manoeuvres that could see opposing forces a few metres apart in their trenches, are all mapped out on a huge blackboard.
At times, the detail is too much and it is only when Huggins moves away from the ‘official’ version and starts to look at his great uncle’s account that the piece really comes to life. What is fascinating is not how Huggins Snr describes the horrors of war, but how much he doesn’t comment on or plays down, alongside the matter of fact, non-condemnatory, tone he displays throughout the interview.
The reflections on why such details are absent or minimised, such as the possible unwillingness of surviving soldiers to be treated as heroes when their colleagues have died, and the desire of those who were at home to remember what those who fought want to forget, see the piece move beyond traditional depictions of war and into something that becomes more rewarding as a result.
Runs until 16 August 2017 | Image: Contributed