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Posts Tagged ‘Nona Shepherd’

This anti-war satire packs as much of a punch in 2010 as it must have on its first outing in 1963. Created at Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop in Stratford East, it frames its scenes telling the history of the first world war inside a Pierrot show (which is probably the only dated thing about it) interspersed with the songs of that war.

Director Nona Shepherd and designer Takis have done an excellent job staging it in RADA’s Vanburgh Theatre with a canvas ‘roof’ to the stage suggesting a big top, side entrances from the auditorium and a stage platform coming forward the full length of the (albeit tiny) stalls. The Pierrot costumes are a little too pristine and the production does need a bit more edge, but it still does the job of presenting us with the horrors of war.

I’m a regular attendee at most of London’s drama schools and conservatoires and I have to say the RADA musical standards lag significantly behind The Guildhall and the Royal Academy – there was some dodgy singing and playing here – but the acting is, as you’d expect, first class.

I’ve seen the show a number of times before but I don’t recall the ending I saw here. After the curtain call, the cast turn their backs on the audience and quietly & slowly sing the satirical title song whilst watching images of all of the wars in the 92 years since this most brutal of all wards ended; it was impossible not to be moved and impossible to applaud once more. I broke down at the final image of an African boy soldier.

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