Bittersweet play pays tribute to Great War fallen

H Reeves as General Douglas Haig, left, and Robert Stuart
H Reeves as General Douglas Haig, left, and Robert Stuart

A MOVING production has paid tribute to the men from Southwick and Fishersgate who fell in the Great War.

Southwick Players dedicated performances of Oh, What a Lovely War!, a first world war satire, to the memory of those men.

The musical drama, directed by Richard Lindfield at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, was outstanding, a bittersweet portrayal of the futility of war through songs and sketches.

The piece was performed in pierrot costumes, meaning it was well-paced, with no need for costume changes.

It was perhaps fitting that the contribution from the young men in the cast was the most notable, mirroring the fact so many young men gave so much in the war.

It was a tight-knit performance with some stunning dance, music and comedy routines, mixed with some terrible statistics reported on a screen behind – horrifying facts and figures on the numbers of men lost in battle.

At times, the cast melted into the audience, sitting among us to encourage joining in with the songs, or laughing along with the japes.

In this lovely little theatre, it worked perfectly, drawing us into the music hall-style show.

On stage, it was not just the younger men who shone, stalwart Ron Common delivered another fine performance, and H Reeves was uncompromising as Douglas Haig, leaving us in no doubt why the Field-Marshal became one of the most reviled men in British history.

Among the females, it was great to see Amy Bowyer in fine form following her foot operation.

There were notable solos from both Amy and Candy White, while Sharon Churchill performed tongue-twister Sister Susie with impressive speed.

Joan Littlewood’s musical play has lost none of its impact in the 50 years since it first opened and it was, of course, all the more poignant in the year we mark 100 years since the start of the first world war.