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Because what the Net really needs is another person sharing his uninformed views
Theatre review: Oh What A Lovely War 
10th-Sep-2011 05:30 pm
Oh What A Lovely War didn't automatically attract my interest but as Blackeyed Theatre impressed me with their Caucasian Chalk Circle last February I wanted to give the company some support for their autumn tour as well. It's also a nice companion piece to Journey's End which I saw a few weeks ago - in fact one of the reasons for the show's existence is that Joan Littlewood thought the popularity of Sheriff's play had meant for decades only the officers' side of World War I had been told. Her 1963 play tells the story of the entire war in the form of a satirical farce, with the actors as pierrots and including a number of contemporary songs (rather too many in Act Two I thought, it does get a bit bogged down in them.)

Again the company goes for an actor-musician approach with Robert Harding, Ben Harrison, Joseph Mann, Paul Morse and Tom Neill jumping between playing all the roles and an impressive variety of instruments. The sketch-like nature of the show means it can be hit and miss, and despite the energy and effort of the cast in Adrian McDougall's production, time has eroded both some of the humour of the savage satire, and some of its shock value. A nice touch in Victoria Spearing's design is the hooks on which the costumes are hung from the start, gradually revealing the white crosses of the cemetery in Belgium as the clothes are used throughout the show. Plus Joseph Mann and especially Ben Harrison are cute. The execution of the play is about as well-done as it could be and its theme sadly remains relevant even if some of the material is starting to show its age.

Oh What A Lovely War by Theatre Workshop, Charles Chilton, Gerry Raffles and members of the original cast ends tonight at Greenwich Theatre and continues on tour.
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