Writer: Joan Littlewood
Director: Terry Johnson
Reviewer: Paul Downham
Oh What a Lovely War is a fun but thought provoking piece of theatre and a truly must see show. The timing of this latest tour coincides with the 100th anniversary of World War 1 still being fresh in the minds of the entire country.
As you file into the auditorium Pierrot performers spread out welcoming the audience and engaging with them prior to the beginning of the show. This is a nice touch and helps you to connect more closely with the performance once it begins.
The show is narrated by Ian Reddington who is best known for his rôle of Tricky Dicky on Eastenders. In complete contrast to his television rôle you find yourself warming to Reddington immediately, his cheeky chappie persona shining brightly throughout. The show also stars local favourite and former Coronation Street star Wendi Peters. Arriving slightly “late” to the performance Peters makes a great modern reference to much the area has changed and the extortionate cost of parking.
The hard working cast of twelve take the audience through the history of World War 1 from the trigger that started it, to its conclusion by way of a number of tongue in cheek vignettes and music hall numbers. These were punctuated throughout with facts and figures about the conflict and imaged of men missing in action or lost during the conflict projected onto Lez Brotherston’s simple yet versatile set, which provides some of the most moving parts of the show. The combination of these three elements has the audience enthralled from the beginning and a number of tears were spotted towards the end of the evening such was the power of the message.
Lynne Page’s delightful choreography means the cast are not stood still for long, with what appears to be an abundance of energy. A mind-blowing number of costumes facilitate the constant shifting of scenes and locations. Musically the highlight of the evening is Wendi Peter’s rendition of Sister Susie’s Sewing Shirts, which is perfectly performed. A huge tongue twister of a song delivered at a mind blowing tempo, which the audience are invited to sing along to… it must be noted that this reviewer couldn’t keep up!
It is however the curtain call that brings the most poignant moment of the evening, a touching tribute to the fallen. A powerful image that resonates throughout the auditorium while Peter White’s superb band play…
Oh What a Lovely War is a beautifully crafted piece of theatre, which could be likened to an adult’s version of Horrible Histories. It is thoroughly thought provoking and makes one realise just what our forces sacrificed during this barbaric war.
Runs until Saturday 29th February 2015