Last week the young actors of Seaford College entertained large audiences with their powerful production of Oh! What A Lovely War. The pathos, anguish and humour of World War One was explored through Joan Littlewood’s dramatically challenging text. The cast, made up of students aged between fourteen and eighteen, tackled these demanding issues with consummate skill and panache. The atmospheric staging, created by Jamie Kluckers, drew the audience into the reality of life in the trenches, just as production numbers such as ‘Oh! We Don’t Want To Lose You’ and ‘I’ll Make A Man Of You’ left everyone with a sense of what it was like to be targeted by those intense recruitment campaigns of the period.
As an ensemble production, it was impossible to label anyone as the star of the show, but Max Jukes’ portrayal of the Drill Sergeant and Field Marshall Haig earned him great praise; as did Ruby Partridge’s stunning performance of Ivor Novello’s classic song ‘Keep The Home Fires Burning’; while Freddie Miller’s padre had them rolling in the aisles! John Green, Headmaster said: “The production was both spectacular and outstanding. It set a new standard for us and I have not received so many plaudits for a production here before.Interestingly, one came from a current parent who wrote: “My mother’s father was called up in 1915 as a young man, newly wed and father to one little girl. There was a period of 6 months when his whereabouts was unknown. In fact he was in hospital recovering from a gas attack in France. My mother recalls him telling her of his job as a sergeant, trying to get the troops in shape, as wonderfully depicted last night. She had tears rolling down her cheeks at the scene with the reverend. My mother said: “the performance puts the BBC to shame!”
At the end of each performance there was a collection for the small charity Combat Stress. The cast were thrilled to learn that their performance had raised a total of £360 towards the work of helping ex-servicemen who are still suffering from mental health issues as a result of their experiences ‘At the front’.