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South West
posted/updated: 09 Aug 2018 - edit review / upload photos
The Accrington Pals
Peter Whelan
society/company: Trowbridge Players (directory)
performance date: 25 Apr 2018
venue: The Arc Theatre, College Road, Trowbridge
reviewer/s: Delia Lee (NODA review)

Thank you for your kind invitation to review your production of The Accrington Pals

A simple set was used for this very poignant tale set in World War 1 and directed by Tony Giddings. A screen at the back provided appropriate images and a brick wall on one side worked well as a backdrop for some scenes not set in the town. The play centres mainly around the women left behind when groups of friends decide to enlist together to form a battalion famously known as the Accrington Pals. The battalion suffered devastating losses and these losses were hard to bear in a community where nearly everyone had a relative or friend who had been killed or wounded.

The central character, who has a very large proportion of the dialogue in this play, is May. Ange Davis, who took on this huge role, was exceptional. Everything about her was perfect for the role and she gave a fine performance. This is a very long play but she kept the pace going well so that it never dragged. I cannot commend her highly enough for this outstanding performance.

Ollie Townsend as Tom had a lovely ease on stage as this young character. His scenes with May were touching and he portrayed this naive young man commendably.
Fellow pal, Ralph, was played by Cameron Runyeard-Hunt and provided a nice contrast as this ‘jack the lad’ character trying to escape the drudgery of work to have an adventure with his friends.

Anna McGrail as Eva was also a natural on stage. She had a nice rapport with Ange Davis as May and their scenes together in the kitchen were beautifully crafted.

Larger than life character Sarah was very ably played by Katy Tiley. Together with Sue Cleverley as Bertha, they provided some of the humour and light relief to the sometimes very dark narrative of this tale.

Michelle Hole and John Hudson as Mother and son Annie and Reggie, gave solid performances and highlighted the daily struggles of the women left to run the home whilst their husbands were at war.

Husband Arthur, played by Alan Rutland performed a very poignant scene as he read his letter home.

Lastly, Peter Tapp, as C.S.M Rivers, provided a strong character as the professional soldier who acts as a father figure to the young men who enlist.

There was some good use of background music including, of course, The Accrington Pal’s song by Mike Harding, which really set the tone of the play. However, the very loud soundtrack of the boys brigade playing as the men went to war unfortunately prevented us from hearing any of the dialogue in that scene, which was a shame.

There was excellent attention to detail in the set, with May’s stall full of fruit and veg and a lovely cosy feel to the kitchen. The use of a red light in the final scene didn’t quite work for me and I wonder whether a very white light might have been a better option for the heart breaking scene in which May sees the dead Tom before her and comes to the realisation that she has lost him. However otherwise lighting and sound was very good. Likewise, costumes and makeup had good attention to detail and worked well.

This was a very accomplished performance by everyone involved; my congratulations to you all.

Delia Lee

NB The comments above solely form the view of the representative attending and only reflect the performance seen.

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