Thursday, April 18, 2024

Review: Oh What A Lovely War by the Thurrock Courts Players

Thurrock Courts Players (TCP): Oh What a Lovely War
Thameside Theatre:


THEY used to say: “What did you do in the war daddy?” In 2018, we may well ask, what did you do to commemorate the centenary of The Great War?

With this production, there is so much more than the show on the stage. Firstly, it was laudibly ambitious for TCP to take this on. It is a tricky one that requires a balance of drama, comedy, satire and sorrow that even the best professional troupe would find hard to get right. The fact that they even took it on is worthy enough however that says something about artistic director, Vic Gray, producer Martin Williams and musical director Luke Coldham.

Before you even go on stage, the Royal British Legion were represented in the foyer, members of the cast in costume mingled with the audience. There was also one of the most impressive programmes produced by TCP which this reviewer will keep for posterity.

The musical numbers were very impressive, performed with gusto and aplomb. Luke Coldham (when are you going to do Cabaret?) was a masterful MC and was the centre of a number of musical numbers. A special mention has to go to May Bloss, who has a wonderful voice. The ladies were intact perfect throughout and were like a troupe within a troupe.

It was the men who had to carry the responsibility of scene after scene after scene, which required multiple characterisations. It wasn’t easy and they gave it a go, which on this occasion, we think is the main point. Can you imagine, if on the eve of the centenary, they played it safe and performed a light farce. As they say, a man’s reach should exceed his grasp…..

The sets were splendid and once again paid tribute to scenic artists such as Paul Lazell.

With a number of students in the audience, they would have received a decent history lesson. The production did an honourable job of taking the audience through events from Sarajevo in 1914 to the armistice on November 11th in 1918.

The cast was able to show characters such as Douglas Haig, Helmuth Moltke as well the traditional Tommy. You definitely got the feel for “Lions led by donkeys”.
The information on the screen at the back was also key as it helped not only as a timeline but also re-inforced the senseless waste of human life.

This was a brave attempt to portray a tragic event in the 20th centre and when Thurrock look back on its commemoration events in 2018, this will surely be part of a honourable tapestry.


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