War Stories

The 24:7 Theatre Festival has been a brilliant showcase for new and innovative writing over the years, and ‘War Stories’ is something quite unique.  Presented by 24:7, and initially performed last year, this is a collaboration between two festivals – 24:7 and Canberra’s ‘You are Here’ – and two writers – Rob Johnston in Manchester and Emma Gibson in Canberra.  24:7 note that the writers ‘worked separately on the stories, before stitching them together into a single piece’.

The end result is impressive.  Emily Spowage plays a wonderfully stoic ‘Elsie’ and Joel Parry the fragile soldier ‘Bernard’ who struggles to regain his memory in a hospital in 1916.  The story is compelling.  The play moves quickly with great dialogue, but it is Elsie’s monologues that really steal the show.  I was particularly taken by Emma Gibson’s writing, based on true stories of Australian nurses, and the way these were woven together into the whole.  Of all the First World War plays I have seen, this is the one I have most enjoyed.  The angle is different and the writing is exceptional.

I loved the way that Benedict Power had directed this performance, and the movement and rituals of the two actors added much to the presentation.  The production is supported by a great technical team, with the sound especially creating a wonderful backdrop to the story.

‘War Stories’ was the first play in this year’s Re:play festival at First Street opposite the new ‘HOME’ theatre.  I’m beginning to like this location, although the paradox of a temporary theatre with comfy sofas and vintage accessories inside a modern office building still feels a little surreal.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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