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Originally devised by the legendary Joan Littlewood, Charles Chilton and the original cast at Stratford East Theatre London; this extraordinary journey through WW1 is like no other. The cast wear pierrot costumes and the company contrast musical interludes from the period with the garish, horrific multi – media counterpoint of the carnage from France.

Next Stage theatre takes on this hugely challenging show, under the musical direction of Zoe Manifold and Director Ann Garner with The Mission Theatre transformed into a big top.

The company as always rise to the occasion, capturing the essence of this minimalistic piece but ensuring the message is sent home loud and clear. The abstract nature of the storytelling ensures that the audience do not get saddled with emotion, just with facts and song – the juxtaposition of these two elements provide a gruesome reminder of the horrors of trench warfare and the huge loss of young life.

This is a great piece and should be top of the list given the centenary of the war falls this year –originally staged in 1963 it remains as powerful and relevant as ever and well worth the watch; the show runs until Saturday with a touching dedication to the late Chris Harris, an ardent supporter and patron of the group.

Petra Schofield