OH WHAT A LOVELY WAR by Lakeside/New Street Theatre
"Oh What A Lovely War". More like "Oh What A Brilliant Production". This was fast paced, very sharp, humorous, tight and localised with the facts shared throughout the show being Nottinghamshire based, which shows what a lot of hard work and research has gone into this clever production.
No Pierrot faces and set in an adventure playground makes the production feel more modern than it's 1963 creation and as soon as you walk into the theatre you're drawn to, and into the set by the actors who immediately win you over by interacting with the audience as they take their seats. This also has the added effect of not making a big opening as you feel like you've just stumbled on a meeting place, therefore easing you into the show without you realising.
The show tells the story of the First World War trench action with comedy and parody and more of a music hall feel about it. Just right for the style of songs like the opener "Row Row Row", "Goodbyee", "Roses Of Picardy" and "They Were Only Playing Leapfrog" among many other lyrical lovelies.
There were some beautiful accapella harmonies which really suited the feel of the show, particularly in stand out songs like "Picardy" and the emotive "Keep The Home Fires Burning" reminding us that in the trenches the soldiers kept their spirits up by singing,and this style would have been the only way to produce these songs at that time.
Comedy is paramount because in the original Joan Littlewood version, her intention was to have us laugh at the atrocities of war, and this was the exact result that was produced.
The cast worked so well as a group and the nice thing about productions like this is that there are no "featured" actors or characters as everyone plays an equal part, several in fact, and they all pull together to create a success.
Regular Nottingham theatre goers will recognise cast members Joe Heap, Judie Matthews, Cibele Ponces Alvarenga, Gomolemo Nyakale (who has grown so much as an actor since I saw him last as Britney Spears in Bilborough College's production of "We Will Rock You"), Katherine Morrant and Damien Ebanks. As I said though, this is a company driven show and the whole cast are like a well oiled machine. Oh and guess what, they actually look like they are enjoying what they are doing which spreads like osmosis. Their enjoyment is contagious.
There are also several New Street debuts in this show, which I really hope will become a great launch pad for the obvious talent on show.
And the cast don't just stick to the stage area either and are all over the place which keeps your attention honed as to where the actors will pop up next.
I've come to expect clever lighting and crystal clear sound at Lakeside and, yet again I was not let down. I knew to expect a great show with Martin Berry directing the show,and yet again I was not disappointed. Martin said that the technical side of the show was epic but everything was just so smooth and flowing that he made this show an absolute pleasure to watch. It's a fairly long show but time flew by, again a tribute to all involved in the show when this is the case.
Martin has managed to trim some unwanted parts from the original play and has created a show that doesn't seem like a collection of scenes spliced together, but a rolling storyline which. for me. made this such an easy and enjoyable show to take in and enjoy.
"Oh What A Lovely war" is at Lakeside's Djanogly Theatre until Saturday 26 July 2014, but I'd suggest you get those tickets fast, while you still have a chance.