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The Muddy Choir

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An explosion is never far away in this highly concentrated commemoration of the First World War for young people aged from 13. Together with the references to mud, hunger, poison gas, lice and giant rats, the episodic sound of shelling serves to drive home the extent to which trench warfare meant death, no glory, for the average Tommy.

Three young conscripts from the Durham Light Infantry, cast adrift in an observation post at Ypres, share a passion for music and their Sunderland home. Their “no killing, only singing” pledge seems increasingly naive as their loyalty to each other is tested by obedience to a faceless chain of command.

The familiar, fuzzy recordings of the morale-boosting songs of the period, interspersed with the whistle and crump of shells, marks the passing of time and creates a discordant soundscape against which the trio’s firm friendship begins to fracture.

By contrast, there are affecting flashes of beauty when the three performers sing in close harmony as the self-styled Muddy Choir. The idealism and innocence of youth is nicely portrayed by Andrew Burrell as Jumbo, clumsily pitiful in his slough of homesickness and disillusionment.

  • Greenwich Theatre, London
  • September 22-24, PN September 23, then touring until November 24
  • Author: Jesse Briton
  • Director: Natalie Wilson
  • Design: Emma Donovan set/costume, Charlie Lucas lighting, Elena Pena sound, Max Mackintosh composer
  • Technical: Douglas Maxwell dramaturg, Zara Nunn musical director/arranger, Mark Lovell manager, Joseph Colgan stage manager
  • Cast: Andrew Burrell, Ryan Penny, Lawrence Russell,
  • Producer: Theatre Centre
  • Running time: 1hr

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The Stage
The Stage is a British weekly newspaper and website covering the entertainment industry, and particularly theatre. It was founded in 1880. It contains news, reviews, opinion, features, and recruitment advertising.