Journey’s End

Lichfield Garrick

*****

IMMERSION Theatre Company’s production of R.C. Sherriff’s celebrated play certainly met the Director’s (James Tobias) aim to create a performance that was accessible and portrayed the humanity of soldiers against the inhumanity of warfare.

He and the rest of the creatives and cast fully succeeded in giving a powerful insight into the relationships, fear, emotional torment and coping strategies employed within the trenches.

This moving and emotionally charged drama, based on Sherriff’s personal experiences, relates to The Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest battles of the 1914/18 conflict, dubbed 'The Great War'.

It is March 1918 and the German led offensive 'Operation Michael' is imminent. The realistic open set, a dingy, cramped dug out, captures the claustrophobic atmosphere perfectly as Captain Hardy (Dan Dawes) sits jocularly musing whilst drying his tattered sock over a candle flame.  Hardy is departing on leave and half heartedly handing over to Osborne (Matt Ray Brown), the grey haired Lieutenant affectionately known as ‘Uncle’.

Under the command of the alcohol fuelled, but much respected Captain Stanhope (Tom Grace) the rest of the company; Second Lieutenant Raleigh (Rory Fairbairn) the young naive officer on his first posting, Trotter (John Rayment) the portly, cheerful, food-loving Second Lieutenant and Hibbert (Alexander Tol), the traumatised, ‘neuralgia’ suffering Second Lieutenant, take up their bunks in the dugout as they return to duty at the front.

Awaiting their fate, they play out the day to day horrors of life at war. Moods and tempers flare, personalities clash, but amidst the fear and expectation of 'going over the top' the relative normality of everyday routine continues.

No more so than in the scenes where the men take their meals together, relishing the meagre, mundane rations served by the cheery servant cook,  Private Mason (Ashley Cavender). The sense of foreboding and tension grows as the Sergeant Major (Dan Dawes) reveals the day of the expected German attack and the Colonel (Peter Watts) relays the General’s orders of a raid on the German forces in a bid to extract further intelligence by capturing a German soldier (Ashley Cavender).

There are fine performances from the entire cast.  Notable performances came from Matt Ray Brown and Rory Fairbairn who, along with the superb characterisation and skilled delivery from Tom Grace, make this production a profoundly moving and poignant piece of drama. 

Rosemary Manjunath and Elizabeth Smith

30.9.16

See website for further tour dates and venues http://www.immersiontheatre.co.uk/journeys-end/

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