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Lotty's War - Manchester, Richmond, London

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by ABC Writer (subscribe)
Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
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EastEnders star Mark Letheren leads the cast
Guernsey in the Channel Islands is a very special place. It has had a harrowing past as it was the closest the Nazis came to invading mainland Britain.

Lotty's War, theatre review, Manchester opera house, Richmond theatre
Lotty's War tours to Manchester and Richmond

For five years during World War Two, the locals on the holiday island were subjected to tyrannical abuse by invading forces. But during that time there were also relationships formed between some German soldiers and the local girls.

This play by Guernsey resident, Giuliano Crispini, tries to tell a small part of that experience through the eyes of young woman Lotty and her on-off local boyfriend Ben De Carteret from the moment the Germans invade and kill her father in a bombing raid.

I saw this show early on during its UK tour at Malvern Theatres, ahead of its performances in Manchester, Richmond and a planned stint in London's West End, and what should have been gripping, sadly turned out to be a very slow-burner with little action up to the interval.

It was more Mills & Boon than wartime action as Lotty is forced to house a dashing, rugged but stern German General.

Mark Leatheren, an actor well known for his roles in television programmes Silent Witness, Casualty and the part of Rev Chris Skinner in EastEnders, gives the standout performance as the German soldier in what is otherwise a tiresome affair.

Lotty's War theatre Review Manchester opera house Richmond
Lotty's War has passion in wartime Guernsey

There's good support from Olivia Hallinan ( from BBC series Lark Rise to Candleford) as Lotty, but play is limited by its set and script.

There are only three characters and no scene changes, with all the action taking place in the kitchen of Lotty's house. When I say action, it's more polite conversation and makes it hard to imagine a war is raging around them until a brief shocking moment after the interval.

The other problem with the script is that it is hard to understand the characters motivation, particularly Lotty's.

We are expected to believe that a strong-minded woman, grieving for her father and angry at the Germans can suddenly fall for a man that doesn't show any particular kindness to the Guernsey people or hatred for the war. It's all a stretch too far and has a messy, uninspiring ending.

There have been some extremely well written stories that have depicted this period of wartime history, and unfortunately, this is not one of them.

Rating: 5/10

Lotty's War

Manchester Opera House - October 2 - 4

Richmond Theatre - October 20 - 25

Tickets cost 11.90 to 33 from the ATG ticket website.
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Why? Wartime history play
When: October
Phone: 0844 871 3018
Where: Manchester, Richmond and the West End
Cost: From 11
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