Love and War: A Western Front Anthology – Bewley’s Cafe Theatre – Review

Love and WarLove and War: A Western Front Anthology – Bewley’s Cafe Theatre

Compiled by Michael James Ford

Susannah de Wrixon, Elliott Moriarty and Michael James Ford, in front of a painted backdrop of some God-forsaken battlefield in Flanders, dressed in calm evening dress with three bar stools on which to sit, tell the tale of the love which one Eric Appleby from England had for his Athlone sweetheart Phyllis Kelly during the period from the Spring of 1915 to the Winter of 1916 when he is killed in action. The letters are primarily his letters from the front to her in Athlone but they are discursive and informative about their love and friendship. As Phyllis had a fine voice, it is appropriate and adds greatly to the unsettling atmosphere of the piece that several popular contemporary songs are performed (with a gentle elegance by de Wrixon) the jauntiness or familiarity of which make a somewhat unsettling alliance with the words being recited in the letters.

The poems which are also read add to the dislocated, grotesque world in which the intimate correspondence is being written. Yet the whole piece bears an unerring need to remain civilised in a time when it was almost impossible to know what it was to be civilised.

The cache of Appleby/Kelly letters which Michael James Ford has mined so painstakingly make plain the cataclysmic effect of war on so called “ordinary lives”. Those lives have to live with the horrors of war for the rest of their mortality. “Love and War” brings to the forefront the grim truth that the damage which the violence will undoubtedly reek, will be damage which will be of long duration. “Love and War” eloquently and with poise makes this point. Well worth a visit.

Love and War: A Western Front Anthology – Bewley’s Cafe Theatre
November 24 – 29, 2014
Time: 1pm (doors at 12.50pm)

Compiled by Michael James Ford
Starring Michael James Ford, Susannah De Wrixon and Elliot Moriarty.

Review by Frank L.

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