This powerfully emotive production brings together the dusty claustrophobia of the First World War front line trenches and the touching camaraderie of its soldiers in arms with poignant credibility.
Set in the officers’ dugout, the play clearly shows the carriage of authority from high rank to field and is a testament to the defence force whose psychological and physical well-being is sorely tested.
RC Sherriff’s play is a masterpiece in characterisation using individuals with clearly defined attributes who honour mankind’s ability to persevere in the face of adversity and death.
The prime role here is that of Stanhope who leads his men with strength and compassion despite his own mental breakdown which he holds in check to protect his colleagues. Christopher Harper excels in a superb portrayal of a man at the brink of physical exhaustion and mental collapse, but for whom duty drives him on.
Graham Seed as Osborne gives a balanced view of the situation with his pragmatic, school-masterly kindness and Tom Hackney is the newly-recruited Raleigh whose tentative enthusiasm is all the more touching for the fatalistic inevitability of the situation.
Knight Mantell is ideal as the commanding Colonel, with Rhys King giving a strong performance as Hibbert, Gareth Davies as the down to earth Trotter and Adam Best as Mason the cook whose flippant one-liners help sanity to survive in the oppressing conditions.
The cast is completed by Zac Holton as the Sergeant Major, Hubert Mainwaring-Burton as the captured German soldier and the production’s director Alastair Whatley as Hardy.
Haymarket Theatre, Basingstoke , January 26-30, then touring until May 10
- RC Sherriff
- Alastair Whatley
- The Original Theatre Company, Icarus Theatre Collective, Anvil Arts, South Hill Park Arts Centre
- Adam Best, Gareth Davies, Tom Hackney, Christopher Harper, Zac Holton, Rhys King, Hubert Mainwaring-Burton, Knight Mantell, Graham Seed, Alastair Whatley
- Running time
- 2hrs 40mins