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This charming, poignant and often amusing play charts the course of The Accrington Pals an army unit who formed to fight in WW1, and the women they left behind.

Jenna Kay, in her first directorial role for TADS, showed promise, and it was good to see TADS yet again giving young talent a chance.  Jenna had obviously studied the play intensely, and had worked closely with the technical team of Paul Horsler and Josh Halsey to get the most out of the dramatic elements of the piece.

The set was well-designed, the use of a split stage meant that scene changing was kept to a very minimum, and lighting enhanced the various scenes, with excellent ‘mood’ lighting, which although low, kept the characters in view.  Very atmospheric. The explosions, gun shots etc were all nicely managed, a bit of shock value at times, but very good.

I enjoyed the musical ends to both Act 1 and 2, performed by Jenna Kay, they created a lovely feel and somehow rounded off the action nicely.  I was particularly taken by the finale, and the fact that there weren’t actual bows, just tableaus, which I found refreshing. I loved the off centre poppy projection at the end, it added to the poignancy of the moment.  

Costumes were good, they suited the feel of the play.  Ladies hair was good, and the mostly muted colours with an occasional bright flash sat well with the tone of the play.

I thought there was a little of a discrepancy in projection from some characters, I had trouble hearing a couple, whilst one was a little too loud at times.

Tracey Chatterley brought all her experience to bear in the pivotal part of May, showing the steel of a woman managing essentially by herself, and also unsure of her feelings at times, but all melded together to give a beautifully balanced performance.

Sarah Benjamin as the tortured Annie, trying to cope with a houseful of children and Reggie, who was the butt of her insecurities and frustrations, gave a good performance.

Nathaniel Chatterley played the unlucky Reggie, with great understanding and very telling facial expressions.  I liked this young man and his playing of the role.

Connie Wiltshire was Eva, and whilst she got the core of her character, her projection was diverse, but overall a nice portrayal.

Jennifer McDonald was the sparky Bertha, full of herself, and pleased with her job on the trams – an uncomplicated young lady, nice contrast to the more angst-ridden characters.

Claire Moore struck the right balance with Sarah, between the lively and more serious ladies, which I enjoyed.

CSM Rivers was played really well by David Hillman, he spoke well, and I liked his relationship with May, showing his softer side, then being stronger with the Pals, well done.

Andrew Naish created a good foil as Arthur to his wife Annie, his preacher-like speeches were a nice contrast to the more down to earth characters.  I liked his monologue, it was well crafted.

Tom, the object of May’s world, was nicely played by Iain Grant, again at the beginning I was having trouble hearing him, but his projection increased very quickly, and he portrayed the rather laid back arty lad well, more interested in his drawing than the world around him, until he had to sign up and go off to war.  Another good monologue.

Joe Hawkins was a very exuberant Ralph, a super contrast to the other more withdrawn characters, creating a real vibe when he appeared on stage.  I loved the way he played the role, but would have liked a little less volume at times.

All in all a lovely play, very well directed and performed.  I left feeling that I had got a real insight to the lives of people at that particular time in our history.

TADS Theatre Group


review date 28th September 2018

Director: Jenna Kay


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