Tuesday, November 15, 2011

" A Perfect Absolute Silence...."

We were surrounded by lanky teenage boys in black blazers with wilting red poppies stuck in crumpled lapels. They slicked up their hair, scoffed crisps, chewed gum and slugged drinks....they giggled and burped and cracked jokes in croaky half broken voices...... and sometimes they threw the odd Malteser at the odd passing nose-in-the-air mini-skirted hair-swirling girl...

BUT when the curtain rose, there was ABSOUTE SILENCE ( the PERFECT sort of silence that teachers demand...but rarely get) and so last Thursday... at The Lowry Theatre, M/Ch....when peace prevailed at the rising of a curtain, we breathed a sigh of relief.

The play was RC Sheriff's " Journey's End", directed by David Grindley. It was set in the trenches near St Quentin in 1918 and first produced in 1928...with a little-known actor called Laurence Olivier as Capt Stanhope. ( I'm afraid I couldn't get " Black Adder" out of my mind for the first 5 mins...I suppose because I'd seen super Tony Robinson present the Cheshire Prize for Literature Awards at University of Chester the previous week:.....BUT this feeling swiftly passed.... and I settled along with the ambience of a remarkable play....)

OF COURSE our Lowry visit was apt, being so close to Remembrance Sunday....with its memories, its music, its prayers......And as my father said donkey's years ago: the older one gets, the more it reaches you and touches you and slithers within you......... and this production with its fine dialogue "of its time".....with its intimate portrayals/well drawn characters (especially Graham Butler as very young/newly arrived 2nd Lt. Raleigh).... plus its sprinkling of humour ( e.g. Christian Patterson as 2nd Lt Trotter) contrasted with the drama of epic proportions which was happening tragically beyond the almost-cosy dugout.

And when the curtain fell, those schoolboys: those 15, 16, 17 year olds all around the theatre...( not much younger in fact than Raleigh, with his clipped tones, his optimism, his wonderful youth) were speechless, they were proud and they sat silent with their thoughts....


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