When settling into my seat in the quaint, tucked-away Friargate theatre on Friday night, I really didn’t know quite what to expect. The production set to commemorate the centenary of the celebrated Rohilla rescue mission seemed fairly straightforward a concept, and I wondered just how even that inspiring story could be successfully fleshed out into a substantial, layered play. I then proceeded to be pleasantly surprised by just how wonderfully it could be done.
Centred around the wonderfully convincing family of Frank, Dorothy and Amy Potts (Ged Murray, Beryl Nairn and Amy Simpson respectively), it is all too easy to immediately fall in love with the trio. Simpson’s evocative narration of the events in contrast to her having to suffer the pains of her sweetheart being at war was utterly convincing, equal parts uplifting and heart-wrenching. Her sweetheart Charlie, being played by Anthony Harrison, showed the troubled whirlwind of emotions and existential questioning of a young soldier with poignant efficacy.
The production was bookended by an almost ecclesiastical acapella performance by the choir composed especially by musical director Oliver Mills for the performance, both setting the scene for the play and rounding off the end with a rousing and emotive tone.
The juxtaposition of the actual Rohilla story and that of Charlie’s experiences at war served very well to tie together the important realisation of the war’s dual nature both at home and away. Dotted moments of humour as well as questions of political significance and allusions to Grecian fates all complimented to form both a very accessible as well as thought-provoking and moving play.