Theatre Severn Is Again Home To Fantastic Theatre.

Original Theatre Company

Birdsong

Theatre Severn 22/27 June 2015

 

Take everything that’s wrong about war , blend in everything that’s great about theatre, twist in a tangled love story and you will be close to imagining what Sebastian Faulks’s , Birdsong, is all about.

This is a magnificent show, poignant, moving and emotionally charged. Taking the audience on a two and a half hour journey of excellence the show leaves one thinking of the futility of war and the cost thereof.

There is no weak link in this chain of brilliance. Embracing the Stanislavskian approach or total immersion into characters the cast filled a stage which could be a dark deep mine tunnel under the Somme,  a Captain’s dugout, or a French Manor House. The design was stunning.

Played against an almost post-apocalyptic setting of ladders, corrugated iron tunnels and a bomb blasted Western Front Trench, one instantly becomes aware that one is watching not just a play, this is a brilliant statement!

This is a people’s perspective. It pulls no punches, Officers are shown to be foibled and both sides the British and The German were ultimately shown to be exactly the same;  Just men following orders, wondering what they did wrong to end up there. This was hell and we got a privileged view into it.

Edmund Wiseman’s portrayal of the Army Officer Stephen Wyford is a tour de force. Such beautifully highlighted shades of character are evidence of a deep and intellectual association with the character and deserve special mention

(Blue )Peter Duncan is also worthy of this reviewer’s attention as the man goes on to amaze and amaze. Not only has he hosted Blue Peter, Run The London Marathon and backpacked his way round the world, he turns out to be a brilliant actor and the pathos and simplicity he brought to his character Jack Firebrace, is strong evidence of that.

Musically this show is a surprise too. It seems there has been a conversation between the British Folk scene and the British Theatre Scene as James Findlay appears as the fiddle playing and incredibly beautiful singing, Cartwright.

 The music was also arranged and directed by Tim Van Eyken. Both has been seen on the Main Stage at Shrewsbury Folk Festival in their own right.

Victoria Spearing’s set design and Alex Wardle’s lighting plan were all weaved breathtakingly into one entity with the phenomenal sound scape provided by Dominic Bilkey .

This is theatre at the top level and for a masterclass in true theatre one could go no better than to look at this show.

In this centenary time it is worth thinking about what would have you been doing had you been born a hundred years ago. Would you have been prepared to die without question? People were and the effect of that resonates throughout our society today.

Maybe one day it will resonate loudly enough for all to hear and we will find a replacement for war. Sadly it is evidential daily that the message hasn’t quite got through yet.

 

This is a five star review.

Owen J. Lewis

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Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet.

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