Theatre at Baddow
Jim Hutchon was at the Parish Hall
Matthew Jones production of this WW1 play brings out much of the terror and boredom of trench existence. John Mabey is convincing as the whisky-sodden, exhausted Commander, keeping up spirits in the daily expectation of death. His combined blackmail and encouragement of the young malingerer Hibbert (well played by Sam Mears) highlights his own well-suppressed fears. David Saddington is the worldly-weary Colonel who breaks the bad news that they have to raid enemy lines.
Roger Saddington as Osborne is calm and steady as the avuncular, normalising influence in the rat-hole, till he dies with six of his men in the pointless raid through a suicide alley. John Kensett as a portly Trotter makes the life seem normal in his all-conquering quest for his next meal, and Harry Sabbarton as the school-leaver subaltern is superbly gung-ho till he gets it in the back. Bob Ryall depicts the batman Mason with grim humour, and Jim Crozier is an excellent lugubrious Sergeant-Major ready to “win the war” for his Captain.
The set was a triumph of a mud-hole lined with flimsy wood, shared with rats and ready to collapse at the slightest test from a whizz-bang. It did so spectacularly to close the action.
We watched the play in the company of 30 students from the Plume School who sat absorbed and silent throughout, and at the end, their outrage at the events was illuminating. Every generation should have a chance to hear anew, these horrors of war.