Oh What A Lovely War

Date 4th March 2014
Society AOC Productions
Venue Arts Centre Theatre, Aberdeen
Type of Production Musical
Director Wilma Gillanders MBE
Musical Director Graham Read
Choreographer Irene Buchan


Author: Douglas J Clark

The choice of Joan Littlewood’s 1960’s musical, first performed at Stratford East, was very appropriate in this the centenary year of the beginning of the First World War. A local flavour was given to the story by replacing the “Tommies” in the original with “Jocks”- specifically members of the local regiment The Gordon Highlanders. A simple multi-tiered set allowed for seamless movement between the scenes on the battlefields and at home. Excellent use of graphics projected on to both the cyc and the proscenium arch gave strong images of the horrors and devastation incurred during the conflict. The story takes place at the end of a pier in a seaside resort at Pierott Show and is told through a series of war games introduced and controlled by the chief Pierrott. The music used is of the period, some with the lyrics we all know such as Row, Row, Row, Pack Up Your Troubles, Keep The Home Fires Burning and some with the “more robust” lyrics used by the men in the trenches such as Christmas Day in the Cookhouse. Singing and dancing were excellent throughout. In a piece such as this where horror, humour and pathos are present in equal measure the acting skills of the cast are equally, if not more important, than the singing skills and every member of this ensemble cast proved they were equal to the task. As it is a true ensemble piece it is difficult to pick out anyone in particular but mention must be made of Scott Jamieson and Graham Lawson for their strong portrayals of the leaders of the British Expeditionary Forces Sir John French and Sir Douglas (later Earl) Haig respectively. Thank you Aberdeen Opera Company for both an entertaining and educational evening and a timely reminder of  how much we owe to those who gave, and are still giving, their lives in the service of our country.