Peace

Date 19th October 2019
Society Magna Drama Group
Venue Credenhill Community Hall
Type of Production Play
Director Betty Morris
Choreographer Laura Gwynne

Report

Author: Louise Hickey

On arrival at the Hall we were given, in lieu of tickets, a white feather to symbolise ‘Peace’. This was the title of a dramatised event that took place of one horrific evening in 1916 when the lives of 8 young girls were snuffed out in a freak fire at the New Garrick Theatre.

As a Herefordian, I am ashamed to say that this is part of the City’s history that I knew nothing about. However, the indomitable Betty Morris brought the story to life in this amazing, powerful and emotional dramatisation of the true account of that fateful night. I am sure that Betty would want some acknowledgement for the facts surrounding the fire, to go to the descendants of some of the young girls who lost their lives, and who were present on the evening I attended. This added to the poignancy of the event. I am loath to title this as a show or indeed even a play, as this was a true account using some of the written words of the coroner (in particular) which made this so much more than your average play. It was a nice touch to hear the accounts of the evening spoken by the family descendants at the opening and closure of the evening; very moving.

The eleven young girls playing the children whose dance school performed in the fundraising event at the New Garrick Theatre did so with a maturity beyond their very young ages. The mums had done them proud as their hair was dressed in the style of 1916, ringlets and plaits in abundance which made them look the youngsters that they sadly were. The authenticity of all the costumes was amazing, and the white dresses with the added ‘cotton wool snowball’s’ which, unfortunately, was a major factor in the untimely deaths of the girls, were beautiful.

 

As mentioned, the girls were amazing: Isobel’s unaccompanied solo of ‘Keep the Home Fires burning’ was incredibly brave and she sung it faultlessly. All the children sang another couple of well-known first world war songs extremely well, even singing them both at the same time. This was a great achievement as they had no-one bringing them in, or keeping them in time, they just stood there and sung it. Laura’s choreography was also of the period, with graceful lifts and turns that displayed the innocence of the girls whilst showing off their ability. The moment when the ‘dead’ girls danced and put the red flowers in a circle on the floor that remained there until the end, was so moving, and so emotional…

 

The adult performers excelled themselves. David Jones played Mr. Maddox the Theatre owner, and it was good to see Dave get his teeth into such a great role. I went from disliking his character to quite liking him, then feeling sorry for him and then finally feeling great sadness for the man he was. His powerful and emotionally charged account in the coroner’s court was brilliant. Paul Oliver was at his best as Mr. Witts. This was a perfect role for Paul who has a natural quiet and calm delivery that worked so well as the influential Businessman. His presence was somehow very reassuring. Daniel Beer was Mr. Moore, the theatre manager who tried to warn Mr. Maddox about the fire risks. Daniel’s facial expressions spoke volumes at times and although it was during the more serious moments of the play, they did bring a smile to my face. Daniel Hoskins played P.C. Harris and Mr. Hutchison the Coroner. Daniel did justice to both roles and although the smaller of the two roles, I particularly liked him as the Coroner; he suddenly became this officious and commanding figure who controlled the final scene well.

Sarah Jenkins was Mrs. Mailes, the lady who came up with the idea of fundraising for the Shropshire and Herefordshire Regiments serving in Gallipoli. Sarah always takes on the gritty roles and this was no exception. She acted with determination and a sense of stubbornness to persuade the New Garrick Theatre to allow the ladies to put on the concert. Her delivery was quick and sharp with a touch of humour when she got her way, proving that women could achieve what they wanted. Hilary Jones played Mrs. Rowlands the epitome of the pushy mother who thought her daughter was the best at everything, although Erin Mahon playing Mabel Rowlands gave a very different impression.  It was Hilary’s character that, unfortunately, come up with the idea of the cotton wool balls. Hilary is such a great character actress and never fails to impress, especially with her timing. The ‘one liner’s’ she delivers just make you laugh as they appear so natural. Hilary also treated us to her clarinet playing and oh boy, was she good. Megan Jenkins just gets better and better; she has come on so much over the years under the guidance of Magna and she gave a sensitive performance as the young mother, with the youngest child who didn’t die immediately. Megan showed real maturity in how she delivered this emotional performance. Laura Gwynne played Miss. Rowen the dance school principle who loved the children under her care, as if they were her own. Laura is a very expressive actress and can show the emotions she is portraying very well. She held herself like a dance teacher and commanded attention from the children and audience alike. Her account at the Coroners court was incredibly moving and so heartfelt that you could have heard a pin drop. In fact, the direction for the court scene was brilliant. The dignity the four ladies showed was incredible; the way that they gave their accounts and fought back the cries of outrage they were obviously experiencing was tangible.

The supporting non-speaking roles from some of the mums as chaperones for the girls was a lovely touch too. The way in which the female ensemble sang ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ was like a military attack, and it was hard not to get on my feet and join in.

The use of the stage and the hall was challenging, but it certainly made best use of the space and meant that there were no gaps for scene changes as the actors moved from the stage to the rear and back again almost fluidly. It became automatic to stop watching the exiting performers as the next appeared which was due to the professionalism of the cast.  The scenes portraying the military funeral and the dead children being reunited with a dead soldier (the father of one of the girls) was emotional to say the least.

There were so many little touches that made this a factual insight into the history of this tragedy; Betty’s writing included terminology long forgotten in our modern times which added to the atmosphere. This powerful, emotionally charged and incredible story will stay in my memory for ever, thanks to Magna Performing Arts.

On arrival at the Hall we were given, in lieu of tickets, a white feather to symbolise ‘Peace’. This was the title of a dramatised event that took place of one horrific evening in 1916 when the lives of 8 young girls were snuffed out in a freak fire at the New Garrick Theatre.

 

As a Herefordian, I am ashamed to say that this is part of the City’s history that I knew nothing about. However, the indomitable Betty Morris brought the story to life in this amazing, powerful and emotional dramatisation of the true account of that fateful night. I am sure that Betty would want some acknowledgement for the facts surrounding the fire, to go to the descendants of some of the young girls who lost their lives, and who were present on the evening I attended. This added to the poignancy of the event. I am loath to title this as a show or indeed even a play, as this was a true account using some of the written words of the coroner (in particular) which made this so much more than your average play. It was a nice touch to hear the accounts of the evening spoken by the family descendants at the opening and closure of the evening; very moving.

The eleven young girls playing the children whose dance school performed in the fundraising event at the New Garrick Theatre did so with a maturity beyond their very young ages. The mums had done them proud as their hair was dressed in the style of 1916, ringlets and plaits in abundance which made them look the youngsters that they sadly were. The authenticity of all the costumes was amazing, and the white dresses with the added ‘cotton wool snowball’s’ which, unfortunately, was a major factor in the untimely deaths of the girls, were beautiful.

As mentioned, the girls were amazing: Isobel’s unaccompanied solo of ‘Keep the Home Fires burning’ was incredibly brave and she sung it faultlessly. All the children sang another couple of well-known first world war songs extremely well, even singing them both at the same time. This was a great achievement as they had no-one bringing them in, or keeping them in time, they just stood there and sung it. Laura’s choreography was also of the period, with graceful lifts and turns that displayed the innocence of the girls whilst showing off their ability. The moment when the ‘dead’ girls danced and put the red flowers in a circle on the floor that remained there until the end, was so moving, and so emotional…

The adult performers excelled themselves. David Jones played Mr. Maddox the Theatre owner, and it was good to see Dave get his teeth into such a great role. I went from disliking his character to quite liking him, then feeling sorry for him and then finally feeling great sadness for the man he was. His powerful and emotionally charged account in the coroner’s court was brilliant. Paul Oliver was at his best as Mr. Witts. This was a perfect role for Paul who has a natural quiet and calm delivery that worked so well as the influential Businessman. His presence was somehow very reassuring. Daniel Beer was Mr. Moore, the theatre manager who tried to warn Mr. Maddox about the fire risks. Daniel’s facial expressions spoke volumes at times and although it was during the more serious moments of the play, they did bring a smile to my face. Daniel Hoskins played P.C. Harris and Mr. Hutchison the Coroner. Daniel did justice to both roles and although the smaller of the two roles, I particularly liked him as the Coroner; he suddenly became this officious and commanding figure who controlled the final scene well.

Sarah Jenkins was Mrs. Mailes, the lady who came up with the idea of fundraising for the Shropshire and Herefordshire Regiments serving in Gallipoli. Sarah always takes on the gritty roles and this was no exception. She acted with determination and a sense of stubbornness to persuade the New Garrick Theatre to allow the ladies to put on the concert. Her delivery was quick and sharp with a touch of humour when she got her way, proving that women could achieve what they wanted. Hilary Jones played Mrs. Rowlands the epitome of the pushy mother who thought her daughter was the best at everything, although Erin Mahon playing Mabel Rowlands gave a very different impression.  It was Hilary’s character that, unfortunately, come up with the idea of the cotton wool balls. Hilary is such a great character actress and never fails to impress, especially with her timing. The ‘one liner’s’ she delivers just make you laugh as they appear so natural. Hilary also treated us to her clarinet playing and oh boy, was she good. Megan Jenkins just gets better and better; she has come on so much over the years under the guidance of Magna and she gave a sensitive performance as the young mother, with the youngest child who didn’t die immediately. Megan showed real maturity in how she delivered this emotional performance. Laura Gwynne played Miss. Rowen the dance school principle who loved the children under her care, as if they were her own. Laura is a very expressive actress and can show the emotions she is portraying very well. She held herself like a dance teacher and commanded attention from the children and audience alike. Her account at the Coroners court was incredibly moving and so heartfelt that you could have heard a pin drop. In fact, the direction for the court scene was brilliant. The dignity the four ladies showed was incredible; the way that they gave their accounts and fought back the cries of outrage they were obviously experiencing was tangible.

The supporting non-speaking roles from some of the mums as chaperones for the girls was a lovely touch too. The way in which the female ensemble sang ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ was like a military attack, and it was hard not to get on my feet and join in.

The use of the stage and the hall was challenging, but it certainly made best use of the space and meant that there were no gaps for scene changes as the actors moved from the stage to the rear and back again almost fluidly. It became automatic to stop watching the exiting performers as the next appeared which was due to the professionalism of the cast.  The scenes portraying the military funeral and the dead children being reunited with a dead soldier (the father of one of the girls) was emotional to say the least.

There were so many little touches that made this a factual insight into the history of this tragedy; Betty’s writing included terminology long forgotten in our modern times which added to the atmosphere. This powerful, emotionally charged and incredible story will stay in my memory for ever, thanks to Magna Performing Arts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On arrival at the Hall we were given, in lieu of tickets, a white feather to symbolise ‘Peace’. This was the title of a dramatised event that took place of one horrific evening in 1916 when the lives of 8 young girls were snuffed out in a freak fire at the New Garrick Theatre.

 

As a Herefordian, I am ashamed to say that this is part of the City’s history that I knew nothing about. However, the indomitable Betty Morris brought the story to life in this amazing, powerful and emotional dramatisation of the true account of that fateful night. I am sure that Betty would want some acknowledgement for the facts surrounding the fire, to go to the descendants of some of the young girls who lost their lives, and who were present on the evening I attended. This added to the poignancy of the event. I am loath to title this as a show or indeed even a play, as this was a true account using some of the written words of the coroner (in particular) which made this so much more than your average play. It was a nice touch to hear the accounts of the evening spoken by the family descendants at the opening and closure of the evening; very moving.

 

The eleven young girls playing the children whose dance school performed in the fundraising event at the New Garrick Theatre did so with a maturity beyond their very young ages. The mums had done them proud as their hair was dressed in the style of 1916, ringlets and plaits in abundance which made them look the youngsters that they sadly were. The authenticity of all the costumes was amazing, and the white dresses with the added ‘cotton wool snowball’s’ which, unfortunately, was a major factor in the untimely deaths of the girls, were beautiful.

 

As mentioned, the girls were amazing: Isobel’s unaccompanied solo of ‘Keep the Home Fires burning’ was incredibly brave and she sung it faultlessly. All the children sang another couple of well-known first world war songs extremely well, even singing them both at the same time. This was a great achievement as they had no-one bringing them in, or keeping them in time, they just stood there and sung it. Laura’s choreography was also of the period, with graceful lifts and turns that displayed the innocence of the girls whilst showing off their ability. The moment when the ‘dead’ girls danced and put the red flowers in a circle on the floor that remained there until the end, was so moving, and so emotional…

 

The adult performers excelled themselves. David Jones played Mr. Maddox the Theatre owner, and it was good to see Dave get his teeth into such a great role. I went from disliking his character to quite liking him, then feeling sorry for him and then finally feeling great sadness for the man he was. His powerful and emotionally charged account in the coroner’s court was brilliant. Paul Oliver was at his best as Mr. Witts. This was a perfect role for Paul who has a natural quiet and calm delivery that worked so well as the influential Businessman. His presence was somehow very reassuring. Daniel Beer was Mr. Moore, the theatre manager who tried to warn Mr. Maddox about the fire risks. Daniel’s facial expressions spoke volumes at times and although it was during the more serious moments of the play, they did bring a smile to my face. Daniel Hoskins played P.C. Harris and Mr. Hutchison the Coroner. Daniel did justice to both roles and although the smaller of the two roles, I particularly liked him as the Coroner; he suddenly became this officious and commanding figure who controlled the final scene well.

 

Sarah Jenkins was Mrs. Mailes, the lady who came up with the idea of fundraising for the Shropshire and Herefordshire Regiments serving in Gallipoli. Sarah always takes on the gritty roles and this was no exception. She acted with determination and a sense of stubbornness to persuade the New Garrick Theatre to allow the ladies to put on the concert. Her delivery was quick and sharp with a touch of humour when she got her way, proving that women could achieve what they wanted. Hilary Jones played Mrs. Rowlands the epitome of the pushy mother who thought her daughter was the best at everything, although Erin Mahon playing Mabel Rowlands gave a very different impression.  It was Hilary’s character that, unfortunately, come up with the idea of the cotton wool balls. Hilary is such a great character actress and never fails to impress, especially with her timing. The ‘one liner’s’ she delivers just make you laugh as they appear so natural. Hilary also treated us to her clarinet playing and oh boy, was she good. Megan Jenkins just gets better and better; she has come on so much over the years under the guidance of Magna and she gave a sensitive performance as the young mother, with the youngest child who didn’t die immediately. Megan showed real maturity in how she delivered this emotional performance. Laura Gwynne played Miss. Rowen the dance school principle who loved the children under her care, as if they were her own. Laura is a very expressive actress and can show the emotions she is portraying very well. She held herself like a dance teacher and commanded attention from the children and audience alike. Her account at the Coroners court was incredibly moving and so heartfelt that you could have heard a pin drop. In fact, the direction for the court scene was brilliant. The dignity the four ladies showed was incredible; the way that they gave their accounts and fought back the cries of outrage they were obviously experiencing was tangible.

 

The supporting non-speaking roles from some of the mums as chaperones for the girls was a lovely touch too. The way in which the female ensemble sang ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ was like a military attack, and it was hard not to get on my feet and join in.

 

The use of the stage and the hall was challenging, but it certainly made best use of the space and meant that there were no gaps for scene changes as the actors moved from the stage to the rear and back again almost fluidly. It became automatic to stop watching the exiting performers as the next appeared which was due to the professionalism of the cast.  The scenes portraying the military funeral and the dead children being reunited with a dead soldier (the father of one of the girls) was emotional to say the least.

 

There were so many little touches that made this a factual insight into the history of this tragedy; Betty’s writing included terminology long forgotten in our modern times which added to the atmosphere. This powerful, emotionally charged and incredible story will stay in my memory for ever, thanks to Magna Performing Arts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On arrival at the Hall we were given, in lieu of tickets, a white feather to symbolise ‘Peace’. This was the title of a dramatised event that took place of one horrific evening in 1916 when the lives of 8 young girls were snuffed out in a freak fire at the New Garrick Theatre.

 

As a Herefordian, I am ashamed to say that this is part of the City’s history that I knew nothing about. However, the indomitable Betty Morris brought the story to life in this amazing, powerful and emotional dramatisation of the true account of that fateful night. I am sure that Betty would want some acknowledgement for the facts surrounding the fire, to go to the descendants of some of the young girls who lost their lives, and who were present on the evening I attended. This added to the poignancy of the event. I am loath to title this as a show or indeed even a play, as this was a true account using some of the written words of the coroner (in particular) which made this so much more than your average play. It was a nice touch to hear the accounts of the evening spoken by the family descendants at the opening and closure of the evening; very moving.

 

The eleven young girls playing the children whose dance school performed in the fundraising event at the New Garrick Theatre did so with a maturity beyond their very young ages. The mums had done them proud as their hair was dressed in the style of 1916, ringlets and plaits in abundance which made them look the youngsters that they sadly were. The authenticity of all the costumes was amazing, and the white dresses with the added ‘cotton wool snowball’s’ which, unfortunately, was a major factor in the untimely deaths of the girls, were beautiful.

 

As mentioned, the girls were amazing: Isobel’s unaccompanied solo of ‘Keep the Home Fires burning’ was incredibly brave and she sung it faultlessly. All the children sang another couple of well-known first world war songs extremely well, even singing them both at the same time. This was a great achievement as they had no-one bringing them in, or keeping them in time, they just stood there and sung it. Laura’s choreography was also of the period, with graceful lifts and turns that displayed the innocence of the girls whilst showing off their ability. The moment when the ‘dead’ girls danced and put the red flowers in a circle on the floor that remained there until the end, was so moving, and so emotional…

 

The adult performers excelled themselves. David Jones played Mr. Maddox the Theatre owner, and it was good to see Dave get his teeth into such a great role. I went from disliking his character to quite liking him, then feeling sorry for him and then finally feeling great sadness for the man he was. His powerful and emotionally charged account in the coroner’s court was brilliant. Paul Oliver was at his best as Mr. Witts. This was a perfect role for Paul who has a natural quiet and calm delivery that worked so well as the influential Businessman. His presence was somehow very reassuring. Daniel Beer was Mr. Moore, the theatre manager who tried to warn Mr. Maddox about the fire risks. Daniel’s facial expressions spoke volumes at times and although it was during the more serious moments of the play, they did bring a smile to my face. Daniel Hoskins played P.C. Harris and Mr. Hutchison the Coroner. Daniel did justice to both roles and although the smaller of the two roles, I particularly liked him as the Coroner; he suddenly became this officious and commanding figure who controlled the final scene well.

 

Sarah Jenkins was Mrs. Mailes, the lady who came up with the idea of fundraising for the Shropshire and Herefordshire Regiments serving in Gallipoli. Sarah always takes on the gritty roles and this was no exception. She acted with determination and a sense of stubbornness to persuade the New Garrick Theatre to allow the ladies to put on the concert. Her delivery was quick and sharp with a touch of humour when she got her way, proving that women could achieve what they wanted. Hilary Jones played Mrs. Rowlands the epitome of the pushy mother who thought her daughter was the best at everything, although Erin Mahon playing Mabel Rowlands gave a very different impression.  It was Hilary’s character that, unfortunately, come up with the idea of the cotton wool balls. Hilary is such a great character actress and never fails to impress, especially with her timing. The ‘one liner’s’ she delivers just make you laugh as they appear so natural. Hilary also treated us to her clarinet playing and oh boy, was she good. Megan Jenkins just gets better and better; she has come on so much over the years under the guidance of Magna and she gave a sensitive performance as the young mother, with the youngest child who didn’t die immediately. Megan showed real maturity in how she delivered this emotional performance. Laura Gwynne played Miss. Rowen the dance school principle who loved the children under her care, as if they were her own. Laura is a very expressive actress and can show the emotions she is portraying very well. She held herself like a dance teacher and commanded attention from the children and audience alike. Her account at the Coroners court was incredibly moving and so heartfelt that you could have heard a pin drop. In fact, the direction for the court scene was brilliant. The dignity the four ladies showed was incredible; the way that they gave their accounts and fought back the cries of outrage they were obviously experiencing was tangible.

 

The supporting non-speaking roles from some of the mums as chaperones for the girls was a lovely touch too. The way in which the female ensemble sang ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ was like a military attack, and it was hard not to get on my feet and join in.

 

The use of the stage and the hall was challenging, but it certainly made best use of the space and meant that there were no gaps for scene changes as the actors moved from the stage to the rear and back again almost fluidly. It became automatic to stop watching the exiting performers as the next appeared which was due to the professionalism of the cast.  The scenes portraying the military funeral and the dead children being reunited with a dead soldier (the father of one of the girls) was emotional to say the least.

 

There were so many little touches that made this a factual insight into the history of this tragedy; Betty’s writing included terminology long forgotten in our modern times which added to the atmosphere. This powerful, emotionally charged and incredible story will stay in my memory for ever, thanks to Magna Performing Arts.