WAR is hell. That was the message Joan Littlewood and her famous Theatre Workshop were keen to get across when they created the epic anti-war musical, Oh, What A Lovely War!
Satirical, funny and moving in turn, the piece, based on The Donkeys by military historian Alan Clark, premiered at the Theatre Royal Stratford East on 19 March 1963.
That original production, which led to Richard Attenborough’s star-studded 1969 film, featured Brian Murphy, best known as George of George And Mildred fame, Victor Spinetti, who starred with The Beatles as their manager in the movies AHard Day’s Night, Help! and Magical Mystery Tour, and Minder’s Glynn Edwards.
Those now household names will be replaced by the all-male ensemble players of Blackeyed Theatre, when they bring their equally acclaimed production of Oh, What A Lovely War! to Musselburgh’s Brunton Theatre this Sunday.
Featuring Ben Harrison, most recently seen at the Brunton Theatre in the title role in Alfie, Blackeyed Theatre’s take on this classic drama about life on the front line - and its affects on those behind it - features five actor musicians who sing, play and act their way through what is now regarded as a classic of modern theatre and a powerful reminder of the atrocities of a war that cost 20 million lives.
Told through the songs and documents of the period, it is a savage indictment of the military incompetence and inconceivable disregard for human life the First World War has come to represent.
Directed by Adrian McDougall, the production combines live music, dance, songs and sketches to create a picture of life in the trenches. The cast is completed by Robert Harding, Joseph Mann, Paul Morse and Tom Neill.
Oh, What A Lovely War!, Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, Sunday, 2.30pm, £11.25, 031-665 2240