HOME FIRES BURNING
Home Service, Andy Alsop; Volunteer for Murder, Andrew McCoy; Perversion of Science, Liz John; Without our Consent, Julia Wright; Fading Light, Martin Drury
Mockingbird Theatre@The Custard Factory
Runs till 14 November, one interval
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, 11 11 15
Multi-faceted look at WW1 from the Home Front
Many groups, developing new writing for theatre, have workshops. The workshops are often very good. However, no matter how good they are, none of them can compare with the experience of actual production and performances in front of audience. So Big Script, in Birmingham, seized the initiative and obtained development money from the Arts Council of England for a series of short plays centring around WWI.
The five plays presented under the umbrella title of HOME FIRES BURINING look at the war from the viewpoint of those still at home. Together they give a multi-faceted view of life on the home front. The plays vary widely in content and style, from the sardonic humour of the Hercules Poirot style murder mystery of VOLUNTEER FOR MURDER to the disaster of ‘canary girls’ maimed in an explosion in a Birmingham arms factory, this event, itself set against rights for women and the suffragette movement (WITHOUT OUR CONSENT).
Liz John’s PERVERSION OF SCIENCE is particularly interesting as it is set among a German family. We learn the extraordinary story of the scientist Fritz Haber, a man who delights in having done his duty in developing an efficient poison gas. Except that we learn it was his wife’s calculations that did the trick, we learn it at the same time she does. In despair at her science being perverted to such ends she kills herself. Caroline Frewin gives a strong and passionate performance as scientist/mathematician Clara Immerwahr.
Martin Drury’s FADING LIGHT skilfully uses time lines to enable us to share the terrible disintegration back in Britain of Peter (Oliver Leonard) clearly suffering shell-shock, something those in his home can’t understand. A tricky role to achieve which Leonard does with aplomb.
Ian Craddock directs, effectively moulding the plays into a satisfying whole.
Cast: Andy Alsop, Nick Baldock, Alison Belbin, Caroline Frewin, Oliver Leonard, Rebecca Newman
Directed by: Ian Craddock
Designed by: Sophie Rey