In Love With War
Somehow or other, the First World War seems to have lodged itself in our DNA. We’re alternately horrified, fascinated or silenced by stories of barely human existences in the trenches; we find the death toll incomprehensible no matter how many times we hear it and each year, hundreds of thousands visit the battlefields in an attempt to connect with the soldiers who fought and were obliterated there.
Perhaps it’s because we all love a good story, particularly where courage, romance and pathos are central to the plot – and World War I certainly retains a rich seam of story-telling material. Maybe it’s a personal quest to discover more about the way our relatives lived and died in circumstances tougher than we can imagine. Possibly it’s the way that countless writers have chosen to portray this captivating period in our history.
One small Lancashire town’s story triggered the imagination of playwright Peter Whelan. He wrote The Accrington Pals, a moving, yet unsentimental exploration of life on the home front, woven with tales from the trenches. It was performed by the Cotswold Players in 1997 and won Patrick Howell a Gloucestershire Drama Association award for “Best Actor” as Company Sergeant Major Rivers and a “Best Young Actor under 18” award for Nathan King’s extremely sensitive performance as Tom.
So this week, we’ve got two reasons to be delighted to welcome back the Playing Up Theatre Company. Playhouse audiences gave such an enthusiastic response to their rendition of The Tamworth Two last year that they couldn’t resist the chance to return, this time with The Accrington Pals. This Bath-based company has a reputation for superb acting and technical excellence. They’ll only produce performances that they know to be occasionally thought provoking, often challenging and always enjoyable. See for yourself on Saturday 18th February – tickets will be available on the door unless it’s a sell out – which is quite possible!