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Hotel Paradiso

Date Of Performance April 9th to 11th 1981

OWALW 1981

Oh What A Lovely War

Date Of Performance November 19th to 21st 1981

OCR Copy of review


A TELLING Contribution to the nuclear debate was made by Riding Mill Drama Club last week with its latest production, “Oh! What A Lovely War!”  Undoubtedly the play, a product of Joan Littlewood’s London Theatre Workshop, and billed as “a musical entertainment”, was very fine- indeed, but Riding Mill deserve credit for adding their l own brand of Homes Guard enthusiasm-to it.

It was a bold departure from their usual diet of light comedy and tragedy, and all I can can is “Please, sir I want some more!  The play was-well produced by Tony Jones, but the group knew their limitations, and stuck to them, and with the simplest of sets, virtually no props and just the benefit, of Tony Edwards’ accomplished piano playing behind them, they let the story tell itself.

The only concession to modernity was the pair of rather noisy slide projectors which flashed black and white pictures of: First World War trenches, and of trench war-fare life onto two makeshift screens.

Beyond that, they were on their own.

It was an unfussy, level - headed production, which, since many of the cast could probably remember the Second if not the First World War, had the frightening conviction of experience.

Thanks to their smooth and co-operative presentation of what was in parts a lumpy script, the satire brewed like good leek broth, and the plot thickened as time went on.

With the addition of contemporary propagandist songs from the women like “We don’t want to lose you, but we think you ought to go”, the potency of the argument

was painfully clear, It was all enough to turn anyone pacifist.

There were no stars, and each of the players poignantly named Pierrot’s - had several roles.

But that was fitting, for in lampooning war, its divisiveness and its destructiveness, the cast were a model or co-operative modesty and intelligent integration.

They say that the Devil has all the best tunes, and it was ironic that war should give rise to such a fine production. But it would be nice to think that one day Riding Mill Drama Group might be doing “Oh! What a Lovely Peace!” to critical acclaim.


John Sargent

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