4 September to 4 October 2014
Reviewed by Catherine Joyce
The Octagon Theatre is really easy to find, it is right in the centre of Bolton, and sits next to a clean, well-lit multi storey carpark. Parking costs just £2 and can be paid for inside the theatre. The theatre is (not surprisingly) octagonal with seating surrounding a central stage.
I remember reading Journey’s End when I was at school and whilst I couldn’t recall much about the story, I did remember that I enjoyed reading it so I was looking forward to seeing the play.
RC Sherriff had served in World War 1, experiencing life in the trenches and rising to the rank of Captain; his play was written in 1928, ten years after the end of the war and deals primarily with how men cope with extreme fear and the very real chance of death or injury.
When we walked into the theatre we were both immediately impressed with the set. A lot of work has gone into making a realistic trench scene, including a soil floor, walls made of sandbags and a constant rumbling of bombs and gunfire in the background. The set utilises not only the central stage but takes advantage of stairs, usually used by the audience to get to their seats. These have been cleverly adapted to look like the steps leading out of a dugout up to the trench above. With the audience looking down on the cast we became voyeurs on life in a First World War trench.
Raleigh, a fresh faced young officer has managed to secure a place in C Company, commanded by his childhood hero Captain Stanhope. Unfortunately the terrors of war have taken their toll on his hero, who has taken to drink as a way of coping. He is unhappy with the arrival of the new recruit, fearing that his reputation as a hero will be blown once Raleigh writes home. Over the next four days the officers have to cope with death, loss of friends and fear of the coming battle.
All the cast were excellent, James Dutton playing Stanhope leads the cast and was very convincing as a young officer, supported by his older, second in command played by David Birrell. Private Mason, played by Michael Shelford and Trotter played by Richard Graham brought a dry humour to the play.
We thoroughly enjoyed the performance and although it is a serious play we think it would appeal to all ages.
Running time of 2 hours 50 minutes (including 20 minute interval).
Tickets cost from £10 to £26.50
Journey’s End in at the Octagon Theatre Bolton until Saturday 4 October 2014. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 01204 520661.
Octagon Theatre. Howell Croft South, Bolton, BL1 1SB | 01204 520661