Review: Journey's End @ New Theatre
Yesterday was a very enjoyable and happy day for me.
My mood was bright and pleasant and I knew that in the evening I was going to be able to see the production Journey’s End. I’d been looking forward to seeing it for a while - since the school was organising a trip to see it for all Drama students. So I meet up with a friend who, like myself was very excited to see the production of Journey’s End at the New Theatre, put on by The Production Desk Ltd starring Graham Butler, Tim Chipping, Simon Dutton, Tony Turner and Christian Patterson.
The play began with two men; Captain Hardy and Lieutenant Osborne sitting a trench discussing the new arrival of 2nd Lieutenant Raleigh. It was said that six soldiers, including the new recruit were to spend six days in the trenches during which time an attack on the German Soldiers was planned. Between the two sides there was a mere 50-80 metres of no-man’s land.
Throughout the first half of the performance everyone got to know each soldier and what they made of life in the trenches. We got to see one soldier, Captain Stanhope (played by Nick Hendrix) crumble due to shell-shock and try to get sent home; during this scene we got to see the true side to Captain Hardy (played by Tim Chipping) we got to know that he too suffered from a great deal of nerves and would breakdown in tears. Lieutenant Osborne (played by Simon Dutton) who was also known as Uncle during the production would keep the soldiers together - more importantly he was able to keep Captain Hardy together.
I don’t want to ruin the second half because I sincerely recommend you go to see the play yourself so I won’t go into great detail. During this half the attack on the Germans was made and battles commenced. Along the way there were casualties - some severe enough to kill - although I won’t tell you who died and at what moment. I personally think that the second half was much better than the first and I knew from the few sniffles I heard around me that a few members of the audience had silently let tears fall. It was by far the most gripping half of the play with no comedy as in the first half - just utter seriousness.
The theatre was silent enough to hear a pin drop. There were moments during the blackouts of anticipation because all you could hear were faint gun shots and bomb drops, whilst the actors set up.
There were different relationships during the play - but two that really stood out for me were Captain Hardy and Lieutenant Osborne. This was quite a strong relationship, because although Hardy called Osborne ‘uncle’ he was more of a father to him than anyone else in the trenches. You could see that these two were extremely close friends who cared a great deal about each other. The second was again Captain Hardy only this time with 2nd Lieutenant Raleigh. This was a gripping relationship to which by the end I really admired. Throughout the time the two soldiers had spent together you could see they had bonded extremely well and that they both cared a great deal for each other.
The ending was absolutely astonishing and I almost cried when the curtain came to reveal the cast members for their hard earned applause. Each cast member stood at ease, making no movement at all - I must admit; at first I thought a few of them were plastic mannequins. Behind them then was another curtain - only on this pale curtain were thousands of names reaching from the stage ceiling to the stage floor, naming as many soldiers as were possible who had died during the war. During the saluting trumpets the roar of the audience’s applause was enough to say that the production was thoroughly enjoyed and had affected every single person in that room.
Journey's End will be at the New Theatre, Cardiff until Saturday 22nd October.