Sunday, 1 February 2015

Reviews of "Merry it was to laugh there" a WW1 commemorative show based on poetry

With thanks to Julie Easlea for sending me these reviews: 
MERRY IT WAS TO LAUGH THERE Jubilant Productions at the Cramphorn Theatre 04.07.14 A century on, so much remains of the War To End All War.
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MERRY IT WAS TO LAUGH THERE Jubilant Productions at the Mercury Studio, Colchester 11.09.2014 for The Public Reviews A Mercury homecoming for this time...
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Merry It Was To Laugh There, Mercury Studio Theatre, Colchester.
THERE have been quite a few theatrical productions marking the anniversary of the First World War this year but perhaps none as accessible and as poignant as this one.
Merry It Was To Laugh There is a little bit like the best history and English lesson you ever had at school.
It has poems and songs from the era but also little snippets of First World War facts placing those poems in the context of the conflict.
Beautifully performed by actors Tim Freeman and Christine Absalom, who made a more than welcome return to the Colchester theatre where they have performed numerous times before, at times it does makes for sombre viewing.
Millions of needless deaths will do that.
But what makes this production so utterly watchable is the lightheartedness and laughs that juxtaposes the misery.
The gallows humour from the Tommys on the frontline and the bawdy musical hall banter when humanity tends to shine a light through terrible moments of darkness.
Those moments, along with the matter-of-fact diary entries from an officer on the frontline, were the highlights for me.
A hint of the indomitable spirit that people had during such horrific times.

Christine Absalom, Tim Freeman and Ignatius Anthony established huge reputations as members of Dee Evans Mercury Theatre Company. Thus, Halstead’s mayor, David Hume and his partner, Penny, were lured like many of us, to the sold-out Mercury Studio recently where, as the cast of touring company,Jubilant Productions, they performed Merry It Was To Laugh There.
Our expectations were superbly fulfilled. Producer, Jules Easlea’s WW1 show has, as the title suggests, much humour in it. Christine’s teacup percussion and Tim’s excreta enthusiasm plus Robert Graves’ wit and A Tommy’s frequent comic quips, are carefully placed, amid poignant poetry, from women as well as men, while the informative diary extracts impress too.
Impeccably staged, costumed and lit, the 2 actors also speak in French and German and sing. Incidentally, all dialogue & lyrics are off by heart. My how they sing, a cappella, with not a radio mike in sight! Iggy’s measured lucid tones perfectly balance the faultless action of his comrades on the front line. The timbre of little Flora Easlea’s voice reciting Sal, is a delightful touch. More please!
Pat Rudkins

Jules Easlea

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