Review: One Night in November,
at Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
This harrowing drama about the Coventry Blitz comes to the main stage of the Belgrade after a successful run two years ago, written as part of the theatre’s reopening season.
It returns to mark the 70th anniversary of this devastating air raid on the town, with Coventry-born playwright Alan Pollock basing the night’s events around a conspiracy theory that Winston Churchill had known about Germany’s plans to bomb Coventry.
According to the theory, intelligence supposedly came from code-breakers at Bletchley Park, but warning Coventry of the imminent threat would have alerted the Germans to the fact that their codes had been cracked.
One Night In November follows the story of one family’s experience that night and a romance between code-breaker Michael and 18-year-old Katie, who lives with her family in Coventry.
The pair meet on a dusty war-time railway station at Henley-in-Arden and, on the night of the bombing, Michael is due to visit Katie’s Coventry home for her birthday celebrations.
But he learns about the planned raid on the city and faces a dilemma about whether or not to warn Katie and her family.
Whether you wish to believe the theory or not, Pollock’s gripping drama provides a heart-rendering account of this devastating night with dramatic and astonishing technical effects.
The romance between Michael and Katie is convincing and there are also exceptional performances by Richard Bremmer, who changes from a strong, forthright activist father to a grief-stricken, frail old man.
A gripping piece of story telling, with touches of humour amongst the misery as the tragic events of the night and its impact on the city unfold.
* Until November 13