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Reg. Charity No. 305999

Citation Awards

Music Section of the Devonshire Association




Wessex Festials

S P E C I A L  E V E N T

Review of ‘the War to End all Wars; a Commemorative Concert of Song, Poetry, Reading and Music.  Written, produced and performed by members of Pennymoor Singaround.

This production was premiered to a capacity audience during Pennymoor’s ‘After the Fair’ festival at Bampton on 2 November 2014.  A great deal of hard work and research had obviously been put into it, particularly the script, admin and production by Dick and Mel Henrywood, technical support and photography by Alan Rosevear and direction by Clare Penney.  It was serious in tone, reflecting the grim realities of war, but relieved and balanced by moments of humour.  As with most opening performances there was some hesitation, mistakes and nervousness which no doubt will improve with performance.

The show started with the outbreak of war and recruitment and moved on to deal with the realities of life at the front, keeping the home fires burning and finally the cessation of hostilities and the consequences.  This follows the established pattern of many similar productions being performed in this centennial year.  It is perhaps a missed opportunity to focus on little talked about issues, such as the shuttle diplomacy of pacifist groups in trying to stop the war and the issue of the more than 300 soldiers who were shot for cowardice.  It is none the less an excellent production and well worth seeing.

The show was well structured and movingly presented.  Special mention must go to Derek Moore, whose acting skills shone, portraying his characters with feeling and passion.  Also Mel Henrywood with her very emotional portrayal of a French prostitute singing the moving song ‘1917’ about the need of soldiers for comfort to hide from the war.  This was most sensitively accompanied by Jon Shapley on the accordion.  Kath Parry’s role as a Crediton nurse, reading her letters home, brought a firsthand account of conditions for the wounded in the medical field centres and hospitals to life.

Extracts from trench newspapers interspersed acts, giving telling and sometimes amusing comments on war at the front.  There were plenty of songs for audience participation, with words appearing on the screen, though we felt it was unnecessary to repeat several of the most well-known songs (Tipperary, Home Fires etc) more than once.  The musical accompaniment from all performers was excellent.

It is a very thoughtful and enjoyable production, and this first performance quite justifiably received a standing ovation from many audience members.  Well done Pennymoor.


Reviewed by Bill Crawford and Penny Rigby  

Anyone wishing to see this production or book it for their club, village hall or society, please contact Nicola King on 01363 877748 or nicola@beechhill.eclipse.co.uk