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
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.
END OF REVIEW
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 firstname.lastname@example.org