Canvey's Great War

Date 12th November 2014
Society Cast and Crew Theatre Workshop
Venue St Nicholas Church Hall, Canvey Island
Type of Production play
Director Martin Lepley

Report

Author: Tessa Davies

This play, researched and written by director Martin Lepley, was a thought provoking and informative story of the men from Canvey who lived and died in the First World War.   The play has been lovingly crafted to give the background to some of the events that directly affected the people of the Island in that period.

As an ensemble play I would not, normally, single out individuals but I must compliment Matthew Warner for his consistent and well performed role as Robert John Henry Monteith.  Coral Baker worked alongside him as the young tearaway Sam, delivering her lines well and with strong emotions.  I particularly liked the three ladies with the white feathers; they brought a welcome touch of comedy whilst still delivering some telling dialogue.  Trudy Ann Britnell, Sally Catling and Sarah Lepley all produced their usual excellent characterisations.   Andy Shore’s portrayal as the wounded soldier was a masterpiece.   The majority of the remainder of the cast gave good performances, especially as they had to play several different characters.

I also appreciated the way that the name of each of the deceased was announced with the use of a telegram and, taking those into the audience, gave it strong impact.

The pace was quite slow as cues were not always picked up quickly enough and some dialogue was not learnt as well as it could have been.  I got the sense that a few more weeks rehearsals would have been of benefit.  It was the first performance but there really is no excuse for lines being read on stage.  Unless, of course, there was a late substitution of a character, although I was not made aware of this being the case.   There were a number of sections of dialogue which could have been cut down to make the timing of the play more manageable.   In a professional environment new plays are run for a while and then rewrites make it a better production.   I think this play would have benefitted from that process.

The play was overlong but it had a strong story to tell and we were drawn into the emotions and issues of the time.  It also gave us some interesting information that filled in the gaps of my own knowledge of the period.

Scenery worked well, although I think a bench at the memorial would have been a good idea, giving Matthew and Coral the chance to sit between their scenes and bringing different levels into the production.

Overall a thought provoking and interesting evening, I appreciated the effort from all concerned in the production.