"Worthy of Rattigan and Priestley"
by David Rumelle for remotegoat on 17/05/15

It is deeply satisfying that this creative gem arrives in it's present form- just after the anniversary of VE day-as it's message opens up even more questions, and confronts more prejudices and issues that resonate to this day. The period between the two great wars is described as " Twenty years-barely enough to raise the next lot of fodder"- an excellent example of the kind of powerful dialogue this piece contains.

The directors(Frank Simms and Jenny Earl) writer(Jill Haas) and an ensemble cast in the true sense of the word have captured the style of the period and produced a piece worthy of J.B Priestley and Terrence Rattigan. In fact-that is what I came away feeling I had witnessed.
There isn't a week link in this production- even down to the amazing set and authentic period costumes of designer Kevin Jenkins-not a tea cup ,hairstyle, or dress out of place-spot on ! (The simple set with it's ever open doors-must surely be a metaphor !.)

The subject of conscientious objectors, government legislation and enemy civilians in war time has been fully explored, honed and given body and soul by writer Jill Haas .Extensive re-working has ensured there is not a word of wasted dialogue in this compelling drama fully exploring "the English and their selective sympathy" in wartime ,And what we tend to forget is that a significant proportion of the play occurs outside the war years boundaries (in the same way as the holocaust)

The cast of seven produce fully rounded, fully explored and totally believable characters with whom we empathise believe in totally and feel we know- all within an hour and a half.. The timing ,emotion and characterisation is of the highest standard. The chemistry between the entire cast is electric.

Harry Owens sets a superb standard from the off with his portrayal as pacifist Sam Bankes- deeply moving and exquisitely timed. Closely followed by Shelley Draper as central character-Doreen Humber- giving the piece a strong backbone and momentum. She is ably assisted by Glen Kinch as husband Ossie- whose finely tuned performance is a joy.

Honey Bankes -beautifully portrayed by Alison Harris is the perfect pivot of emotion for the show.
A fine portrayal by Jenny Earl of Mrs Stanton- brings even more depth to this remarkable evening.
The dialects have been clearly honed and never become obtrusive- and Rowan Scarborough and Phil Reeve (Leo Tebrich and Leni Hirschon) are magnificent in portraying fully focussed and rounded characters-of whom we hang on every word of the well crafted dialogue-providing a wonderful balance of pathos, sincerity and innocence.

The passage of time is seamless -and a particularly moving Christmas scene is played with amazing poignancy and eloquence. The whole evening is a brilliant moving journey
By the end of this production-there is a wonderful resolution of feeling and belonging in finding new relationships and family in a time of national emergency- the piece never becomes maudlin or self indulgent.

In short-this is a drama -worthy of any TV writer-and should be adapted for television, radio-and film. Catch it while you can !

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