Friday, 28 July 2017

“WW! - Present Location Uncertain”
The Vine Community Centre, Basford.
As part of the WW1 Community Project, this is something that is a little bit different; so what’s it all about?
“Present Location Uncertain” is based on the World War 1 letters of Nottingham soldier, Harold Priestley. The Project recalls the life of Priestley, who fought on The Western Front, and his family and the community during the period 1914-18. This is in association with Djanogly City Academy.
The set makes an instant impact with large scale letters hung up around the performance area. It starts with an unnamed man going through some old memorabilia and discovering the letters in an old case; from there we are taken back to where Harold Priestley meets his soon to be wife, Eva.
We follow his footsteps through his courting days, the mother who obviously feels that Eva is not good enough for her son, the wedding, their son, called "Sonny", and Harold getting his call up papers.
From there on the mood changes and you get to feel the longing and emptiness felt by both as they converse through letters, some of which don't get through. This is cleverly depicted in the simplest of ways, but is so powerful.
And that is the theme that runs through this short play; simple but powerful and emotive. This makes the delivery of the news of Harold's death even more powerful. You can feel the love these two people have for each other and the massive space between the two is well portrayed.
The cast, Maddy Chapman, Angela Hayes, Andy Hutchinson, Emily KelseyMarcus Whybrow, Molly Wright, Thomas Randall, Rania Dante, Sonny Hale, Maggie Burrows and Rayyan Yousef Khan are excellent in telling this story, which is basically a love story across time and space, but what we shouldn't forget is that this is a true story.
I loved the puppetry in this play as well to portray Sonny. A clever piece of theatre which when executed well, as it is here, adds to the play.
Directed by Sarah Stevenson with design by Sarah Lewis. What also creates that special atmosphere is the instrumental music. the Sound Design is by Matt Marks and the wonderful story telling is all thanks to the wonderful direction and the dramaturg, Beth Shouler.
I've seen plays like this in the past but for some reason this was different and it strikes home, maybe it's the rich story telling element and the way these actors brought the letters and the words from the letters to life, who knows? This is a special play and should be seen by more people, especially school kids, and I hope that this will be the case.
The project itself will conserve and digitise 88 letters plus postcards and photographs in the possession of David Priestley, Harold’s grandson. The digitised collection will be deposited with the Vine and at Local Studies in Nottingham’s Central Library.
There'll also be a film made of this story and play and will be shown on 11 November 2017 at Central Library in Nottingham.
The title of the project is taken from the words stamped on letters returned to Eva, Harold’s wife, from the Western Front in 1918, when Harold could not be found after fighting on the Front line. He had fallen in battle near Arras.
This is community theatre at it's best and I have Euan David to thank for inviting me down to see this lovely, thought-provoking piece of true history.

No comments:

Post a Comment