|We That Are Left|
Watford Palace Theatre
19 April - 5 May 2007
Box Office: 01923 225671
Gary Owen was inspired to write the piece after hearing a woman describe events in the summer of 1940 during a radio broadcast, in the small hours of the morning.
Gary’s previous credits include The Drowned World (which won the 2002 George Devine Award) and Crazy Gary’s Mobile Disco.
Gary was also the winner of the Arts Council England 2003 Meyer-Whitworth Award for new writing for the theatre.
I have always got a little emotional about anything to do with World War II. Having grown up with the stories and having become acutely aware of how much we owe that generation for our freedoms today, I worry about whether I told my late grandparents exactly how proud of them I was.
I’m sure they knew but the more I understand about that conflict, the more I want to tell them all over again – and I can’t. And this beautifully written play by Gary Owen brought it all home to me again.
Predictably therefore, “We That Are Left” had me blubbing pretty much from the middle of the first half, through the interval and into the second as it depicts the story of Ginger and Billy, two young people who meet in the midst of the horror of war and, convinced that German invasion is just around the corner, seek solace and support from each other.
|Paul Woodson and Amy Hall in We That Are Left|
Unfortunately, Ginger is engaged but her fiancé is a POW and, lonely and scared she makes a mistake that affects the rest of her life.
Some 60 years later we meet Ruth and James through whom we see how decisions made in the war have influenced the rest of their lives too – just as they did for the whole world.
It is a wonderfully poignant play with some really good comic moments and I think that it’s the comedy and tragedy sitting so closely together that make it so highly moving.
Gawn Grainger and Angela Down play the older couple and they have most of the lighter moments which they successfully pull off through excellent timing. And Amy Hall and Paul Woodson make a handsome younger couple who perfectly depict a feeling of fear and loneliness in the midst of an extraordinary situation.
|Gawn Grainger and Angela Down|
Both couples deal sensitively with the revelationary moments, when you realise that the two pairs are linked, all the while under the slick and imaginative direction of Brigid Larmour who guides you through the play, showing in a move or a look as well as the words, how the two stories reflect each other, with the older tale having many resonances today.
The set, designed by Hannah Clark, works very well, in particular in the first scene where the action takes place on two levels and with the use of James Farncombe’s intelligent lighting, strikingly shows the fact that two stories are gong in at once. It is an arresting first image.
Through the love stories, this cleverly written play really highlights the heightened feelings that were experienced through the war and shows how ordinary people dealt with extraordinary events, and how what happened is still keenly felt today.
It also drums home exactly how much the people at that time really went through in order to protect our country.
And now I’m filling up again!