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Review: One Night in November, at Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

Alan Pollock’s play about the Coventry Blitz has been tweaked and modified since it was last on the main stage in 2010 and a giant screen depicts the scene changes.

One Night In November
***
Charlotte Ritchie as Katie in One Night in November

This gripping production about the Coventry Blitz returns to the Belgrade for the fourth time since its first appearance in 2008 and it certainly hasn’t lost any of its impact.

Elements of Alan Pollock’s play have been tweaked and modified since it was last on the main stage in 2010 and a giant screen depicts the scene changes from a cold and sombre looking Bletchley Park to rows of burning terraced houses which had felt the full force of the German bombs.

Actress Charlotte Ritchie was the star of the show as love-struck Katie, who falls for code-breaker Michael when they meet on a wind-swept Henley-in-Arden station just as air raid sirens ring out.

Their relationship blossoms in a series of phone calls and they arrange to meet at Katie’s birthday party in Coventry.

But as the day approaches Michael, along with his rather farcical code-breaking companion Shelia, discover the Germans plan a catastrophic raid on “Korn” - which they eventually decipher as Coventry.

They alert the authorities but discover nothing is going to be done to defend the city - suggesting it was sacrificed to avoid letting the Germans know their codes had been broken.

Whilst Katie’s family are caught up in the devastation, Michael is left with a guilt he finds difficult to live with.

The special effects used in the play were fantastic but the dialogue was a little rushed at times and it felt as if the writer and director were trying to pack too much into the scenes, which were occasionally disjointed.

A gruesome rape which had such an impact in the 2010 version of the play was almost lost amongst the scene changes.

But the depictions of a city in chaos and the suffering many endured during this horrific night in November 1940 in the closing moments of the play were deeply moving.

 
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