Play about World War I on English stage


This video from Britain says about itself:

An August Bank Holiday Lark Trailer

24 February 2014

Northern Broadsides and the New Vic Theatre mark the centenary of the start of the First World War with the world premiere of Deborah McAndrew’s moving new play An August Bank Holiday Lark.

Set in the idyllic summer of 1914 rural Lancashire, everyone in the community is excited about Wakes week; a rest from field and mill and a celebration of the Rushbearing Festival with singing, courting, drinking and dancing. The looming war barely registers … but it will.

By Susan Darlington in England:

Theatre: An August Bank Holiday Lark

Thursday 17th April 2014

A new play movingly evokes the loss of community and tradition in WWI, says SUSAN DARLINGTON

An August Bank Holiday Lark

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds

4 Stars

It’s unlikely that Michael Gove will approve of An August Bank Holiday Lark.

Commissioned to commemorate the centenary of WWI, Northern Broadside’s latest play certainly doesn’t celebrate it as a “just war.”

Rather, Deborah McAndrew’s gentle tale depicts the kind of village life creaking under the weight of holidays to Blackpool and votes for women even before the arrival of Kitchener‘s recruitment drive.

In the Pennine mill village where the play is set in 1914, the greatest worry is finding eight Morris men for the annual rush-cart festival and securing trim for the squire’s hat after an incident involving the neighbour’s chickens.

The war seems a distant threat yet it is an opportunity for top clog dancer Frank (Darren Kuppan) to prove his worthiness to wed the squire’s daughter Mary (Emily Butterfield) and a chance for young men to make a stand for “ideas.”

The poignancy of this vanishing community is beautifully captured during one of the key scenes when a rush-cart – a towering wagon piled with cut reeds and flowers – is constructed before the audience.

Accompanied by Conrad Nelson’s joyous music and exhilarating clog-dancing choreography, the festive spirit is such that when the cart is paraded around the stage with hapless jockey Herbert (Mark Thomas) waving from the top, the audience waves back.

Fast-forward a year and the community has been torn apart, with the lives of young millworkers lost in the Dardanelles and the women left behind contemplating a life without a sweetheart.

This shift in mood is powerfully signalled by Barrie Rutter as the squire. Having spent the first act being a parody of his larger than life persona, now he is a broken man symbolising the loss of life, community and tradition.

This sombre note contrasts sharply with the bantering humour earlier and, while the plot may occasionally be spread thinner than dripping, the play is superbly evocative and poignantly acted throughout.

Highly recommended.

Tours until June 14, details: www.northern-broadsides.co.uk.

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