Surprisingly, no one seems to have done a stage adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque's famous First World War novel until Robin Kingsland, co-founder of Birmingham company Taking Steps, picked up a copy a few years ago.
The version he and director Giles Croft have come up with is highly persuasive. Another First World War classic, Journey's End, has been a big hit in the West End and on tour in the last couple of years and apart from possible trench fatigue there seems no obvious reason why this should not prove equally successful.
All Quiet on the Western Front was part of an avalanche of novels and memoirs unleashed in the late 1920s, as people became ready at last to turn their minds to the war.
Remarque's book, best known for the 1930 Hollywood film version, follows a group of German schoolfriends badgered into enlisting by their teacher's patriotic rhetoric who quickly become hardened veterans and succumb one by one to cruel and pointless deaths.
Kingsland has jettisoned the chronological sequence of the book and film, presenting us at the outset with a war-hardened B-company and filling in the back story with an ensemble storytelling style. The setting is a factory, which subtly establishes the intimate relation-ship between trench warfare and industry.
All the famous set-pieces are here - the bombardment in the graveyard, the plundering of a dying comrade's coveted boots, the hero Paul Baumer trapped in a shell hole with the dying enemy he has bayoneted.
Mark Dempsey gives a touching performance as a more working class version of Paul than the one created by Lew Ayres in the classic film, and the very good ensemble cast unexpectedly - but convincingly - includes women playing boy soldiers, orderlies and officers as well as the fleeting romantic interest.
* Running time: Two 20 minutes. Until Feb 25 (Box ofice: 0115 941 9419).