Death in the Trenches and the Women Left Behind

January 23, 2015

Most of the 700 men from Accrington who marched off to serve their country in the First World War were killed in the Battle of the Somme. Newport Playgoers will tell their story by focusing on the women who were left behind when the ‘The Accrington Pals’ marched jauntily off to the front.

The Accrington Pals and the women they are about to leave behind. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The Accrington Pals and the women they are about to leave behind. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

This latest production follows the moving story of the innocent and enthusiastic men who volunteered to fight.

Their experiences of life on the Western Front are contrasted with the lives of their wives and girlfriends back home.

‘The Accrington Pals’ arrive at the Front. Stephen Saunders as Rivers, Luke Bowkett as Ralph, Eammon Corbett as Arthur and Owen Bennett as Tom. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

‘The Accrington Pals’ arrive at the Front. Stephen Saunders as Rivers, Luke Bowkett as Ralph, Eammon Corbett as Arthur and Owen Bennett as Tom. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“These women came together as friends when facing financial, social and sexual deprivation, as well as being thrown into the social changes that came along with the absence of many men,” says the play’s director Sue Morgan.

“The women overcome their fierce sense of deprivation to band together, learn new skills and eventually march militantly on to the town hall and discover the truth about the annihilation of virtually the whole battalion.”

Back in Accrington the women put on a brave face. Bertha (Emma Williams), May (Nicola Carlyle) and Eva (Cathy Morgan) enjoy a glass of beer. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Back in Accrington the women put on a brave face. Bertha (Emma Williams), May (Nicola Carlyle) and Eva (Cathy Morgan) enjoy a glass of beer. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The intriguing mix of personalities in the women’s characters gives an engaging insight into the various impacts that the Pals’ leaving has on them and the challenging battles that begin when the terrible news of the losses comes home.

The play presents the harsh realities of fighting on the front line. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The play presents the harsh realities of fighting on the front line. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Peter Whelan’s play, directed by Sue Morgan, is a marvellously rich drama, first staged by the RSC in 1981. It combines social history with deep feeling.  The audience become totally caught up in the characters’ lives and loves, but there is toughness as well as compassion in this deeply rewarding play.

The strength of the play is that it captures, in the spirit of Oh What a Lovely War!, the contradictions of the time. In wartime, the women depicted fulfil their unrealised potential, the men rejoice in military comradeship. The end result, however, is closer to Armageddon than Utopia.

‘The Accrington Pals’ is at the Dolman Theatre from 11 –14 February at 7.15 pm, with an extra matinee performance on the Saturday at 2.30 pm. To book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.


Signing Introduced by Playgoers for Hard of Hearing

January 13, 2015

Newport Playgoers have introduced signing for theatregoers who are deaf or hard of hearing for their latest production,Deathtrap’.

Student Clifford (James Symonds) has written a script that Sidney (Chris Bissex-Williams) and his wife Myra (Clare Drewett) are keen to acquire. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Student Clifford (James Symonds) has written a script that Sidney (Chris Bissex-Williams) and his wife Myra (Clare Drewett) are keen to acquire. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The final performance of the play this Saturday night (17th January) will have a signing expert at the side of the stage to make the performance more accessible and enjoyable for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. If it proves to be a success then signing could be used in all future productions.

‘Deathtrap’, which is at the Dolman Theatre from 14 – 17 January is one of the longest running Broadway thrillers in history. It’s an ingenious play with a twisting plot that offers a rare and skilful blend of suspense and humour guaranteed to make audiences scream with both laughter and terror.

For more information and to book tickets phone 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.

The cast of 'Deathtrap' have fun during rehearsals. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The cast of ‘Deathtrap’ have fun during rehearsals. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)


2014 in review

January 9, 2015

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,200 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.