The Accrington Pals

November 2014


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The Accrington Pals - by Peter Whelan

Performed - 12th to 15th November, Blackfriars Theatre.

The Accrington Pals is a moving and hard-hitting play set in Accrington during the first few years of the First World War. While the story itself is fiction, the background is reality. The Pals were formed and fought just as they are described as doing in the play. The play was first published in 1982, but was first presented in 1981 by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The Accrington Pals follows the story of the innocent and enthusiastic men who volunteered their services to their country after Kitchener's calls for a New Army. Their experiences of life on the Western Front are contrasted with the women who are left behind in Accrington.

The play has fun and light-hearted moments, which are starkly contrasted with the terrifying reality hundreds of men faced at the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

Playgoers donated £1 for every ticket sold to Help For Heroes.
 
Review 
Throughout this country and indeed many others, events have recently been held to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War 1. To commemorate this occasion, Boston Playgoers decided to stage this exceptionally powerful and moving play based on a real life occurrence in which 700 men from the Accrington area, most of whom were young, enlisted to form a battalion with a distinctive local identity to fight in this war. Sadly, for many, their military careers were to be short lived, as most were slaughtered in their first major action, the attack on Serre on 1st July, 1916, the opening day of the Battle of the Somme. This is an extremely testing play, for every member of the cast is required to enact the effects of going through a range of particularly strong emotions. The combined efforts of the director and actors produced superb characterisation both in the men who went off to fight and the women who were left behind to cope with their severely fractured lives. Maxine Crowson, making her first stage appearance, worked particularly hard in developing the character of “Annie”. The well designed and constructed sets included domestic scenes and battle front locations; with lighting and sound effects used to produce a battlefield environment. The costumes and military uniforms were of the period. This war brought about a sea change in social attitudes, many of which were highlighted in this splendid team effort that was duly recognised by the audience as a most memorable performance of Peter Whelan’s play.
Peter Breach, NODA 20/11/2014
 
Cast
May  - Jo Warrick
Eva - Kathryn Kibby
Ralph - Matt Barnes
Tom - Ed Haynes
Arthur - Rob Green
Annie - Maxine Crowson
Sarah - Rachel Rowett
Bertha - Megan Davies
Reggie - Josh Harwood
CSM Rivers - Jon Molson
 
Production Team

Set, Lighting, Sound – Paul Gibson

Sound Control – Megan Rogers

Lighting Control – John Knight

Props – Liz Worsley, Lucy Taylor

Costumes – Don Jenkins, Violet Truelove

Bugle Player – Johnathan Farragh

Set Construction – Paul Gibson, Philip Mason

Stage Manager – Jacob Moore

Set Changes – Marilyn Cob, Sue Watsham 

Poster & Programme Design - Melissa Poulson 

Printing - DPS