Words don’t often fail me – but they do when I seek to tell you about two superb productions of plays about the First World War.
I am struggling to convey an adequate idea of the heights to which director Paul Viles and his team soared in Walsall’s Grange Players’ account of My Boy Jack, showing the traumas of poet Rudyard Kipling and his family.
And 24 hours later, I was in the trenches again, equally transfixed. This time, it was with Birmingham’s Crescent Theatre’s studio production of R C Sherriff’s Journey’s End. Again it was an enthralling production, but whereas David Haig’s momentous My Boy Jack offered us an insight into the domestic scene as well as the horrendous battlefields, Journey’s End offered no relief from the horrors of trench warfare. In My Boy Jack, the family scenes were separated by a compellingly convincing glimpse of the hell into which Kipling’s jingoistic pride had placed the son who would otherwise have been spared because of his appalling eyesight.
As with Journey’s End, the sounds and lights of shellfire came in superb support of the utterly convincing actors.
These two productions were amateur theatre at its best.
FOUR members of Wolverhampton’s Central Youth Theatre will be alongside mixed-voice choir Temporilla, from Telford, on Saturday, to help to raise funds for a year-long programme of events to mark CYT’s 25th birthday. The concert will be at Lea Road United Reformed Church, Penn Fields, Wolverhampton.
WHY, when playwrights create a play about a company that is putting on a play, is the result so often so unbelievable?
It happened again with Murder in Play, by Simon Brett, which Oldbury Repertory Players presented last week, and it took the gloss off what was otherwise a pleasing production. The cast was purporting to be a repertory company in rehearsal – but every time one player delivered a line she pivoted through 90 degrees to face the audience before swivelling back to show us her left shoulder.
* WHAT’S ON
A Touch of Danger, Highbury Theatre Centre, Sutton Coldfield (to Saturday).
The Grand Duke, Tinkers Farm Opera, Crescent Theatre, Birmingham (to Saturday).
A Bride in the Hand, Swan Theatre Amateur Company, Swan Theatre, Worcester (to Saturday).
Glorious!, Coleshill Drama Group, Coleshill Town Hall (to Saturday).
Brass, Opera and Song, Bromsgrove Operatic Society & Absolute Brass, Artrix, Bromsgrove (Saturday and Sunday).
Swing into Christmas, Midland Musical Theatre Group, Malvern Theatre (Nov 25-29).
Separate Tables, Moorpool Players, Moorpool Hall, Harborne (Nov 26-29).
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfe?, Up ’n’ Running Theatre, Lamp Tavern, Barford Street, Birmingham (Nov 26-29).
Who Killed Santa Claus?, Lichfield Players, Lichfield Garrick (Nov 26-29).