REVIEW: An anti-war musical with a personal twist

Picture by Andrew Hasson
Picture by Andrew Hasson

Oh! What a Lovely War, Ardingly College

Ardingly College began its December production of the modern classic and satirical anti-war musical Oh! What a Lovely War with a personal and moving opening.

The audience assembled in the College Chapel and listened while names were called from Ardingly’s own memorial of WW1 fallen, lit by a torch.

The cast, in pre-war school uniform, answered and came through the nave as carefree school boys , running through to the theatre next door.

A hushed audience followed and was brought to a school room scene, which later became the towns, villages, trenches and battlefields of the war.

The school children in turn became townsfolk, politicians, pacifists, night club singers and both British and German officers and soldiers. One of the most moving scenes was the exchange of carols and gifts by the two forces on Christmas Day 1914.

Always a powerful piece of theatre, this production of Oh! What a Lovely War was an outstanding example of ensemble work with drama and songs strikingly well performed by a senior school cast, many of whom are the same age as the young men they portrayed.