I travel as much as possible at home and abroad. I'm always ready for new experiences
'Part circus, part seaside entertainment, part music hall'
Oh What A Lovely War is currently showing at the Djanogly Theatre at the University of Nottingham in honour of the centenary of the First World War. This is a revival of the 1963 musical by Joan Littlewood. It is performed by the New Street Theatre in collaboration with the Lakeside Arts Centre. The show runs until Saturday, 26 July.
Members of the original 1963 production perform in this revival, along with a cast of all ages, under the direction of Martin Berry, who has experience in mixing horror with comedy in such previous productions as Sweeney Todd and Little Shop of Horrors.
The show tells the story of the First World War through two hours of music hall style song and dance from the period, props, background projection, audience participation and comic sketches, which invite the audience to laugh and cry at the horror and absurdity of war in general, but particularly the extremes of the First World War.
A variety of costumes and props are used to create war scenes of battlefields, trenches, and the coast. Headlines and photographs from the period are projected onto the background to give the audience a sense of the scene and chronology. A lively and engaging environment is created by the energetic cast, especially when the audience is invited to sing along with Sister Susie's Sewing Shirts for Soldiers.
The scene of pacifists is particularly moving. The suffering in the trenches and pointless massacre of the millions on the battlefields are well-known facts about the First World War. However, the persecution and abuse suffered by conscientious objectors has also come to light in recent years. Many were sentenced to hard labour or prison, and Lord Kitchener even sentenced some to death by firing squad (Richmond Sixteen).
The show describes itself as 'a riot of colour and music, brilliantly comic and deeply moving'. The combination of raucous and uplifting music hall songs with the death and horror of the trenches is jarring to the senses and perhaps is what makes this show work so well. Comedy is often a great vehicle to look at difficult situations in a new light. The First World War has passed out of living memory, but the attributes associated with it, imperialism, racism, pointlessness, and inhumanity, are still relevant to dialogues about present day conflicts.
The show is only performing for a few more days. Show time is 7.30pm and tickets are available for £15 (£13 concessions) or £8.50 restricted view.