The Return of the Soldier

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The drama of first love during a time of strong class division, cot death and exploring PTSD during World War One ………as a musical – that’s someone taking a leap of faith.

5 actors tell the story of an injured soldier returning home with memory loss, who has forgotten he’s married and still believes he is in love with his first love, while she still fantasises about the romance as she lives an ordinary life with a Mr Normal because she thought the soldier never wrote to her. There’s more however there is an interwoven love story within the personal traumas of all the characters.

The music is supplied by a piano and a cello at the back of the set, two instruments that can create plenty of drama to add to the atmosphere of the story line. The stage is cleverly set to be able to watch two to three different scenes happening at the same time, with the odd flashback – all while they are singing – once you managed to get your head around that, it worked a treat. Fortunately, there was plenty of speaking – impossible to have every line a song, only Disney can get away with that. There may have been an extra song too many, where speaking possibly would have been the better choice, but then you needed the instruments to help add to the emotion.

Good script writing, scores and songs – great talent in that department too. The Wolsey Theatre is intimate and every seat is a good view, it’s always good to be close to the stage. The sounds was very clear, to hear all the words during the songs is a bonus – I’ve been to many where you just lose your way as you can’t hear what the actors are saying/singing – but not tonight.

It was certainly engaging, the complexity made it very watchable as there was a good storyline that we wanted to follow. It helped that the actors were fabulous – they brought the characters to life and their emotions came through to perfectly match the scenes, the singing was error free with wonderful voices. It was a joy to watch them perform – maybe next time something a little happier.

It was a drama, it was a love story, the Doctor was the only light relief. Don’t go along expecting this musical to be jolly and happy – it’s not. It’s traumatic and passionate and it will move you. Definitely worth going to see to experience something different.

The book was THE only book published about the war, during the war and by a woman – but to produce it as a musical? Someone did, and why not? 

This review first appeared on GrapevineLIVE

Photo Copyright Phil Trager

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