Reviewed by Sophie Emberson
Ian Hislop and Nick Newman’s originally BBC screenplay now comes to the stage, a brilliantly written comedy telling the story of the 12th division, Sherwood Foresters based in Ypres during WWI.
The staging and lighting with the addition of amazing and realistic sounds transport you from a seat in the stalls into the horrendous conditions of the trenches.
Quick, witty and extremely funny but also keeping to the true sentiments of what really went on in the war. We see Captain Fred Roberts played by (James Dutton) and his battalion in trench warfare, find an old printing press and use it to produce a newspaper “The Wipers Times”. With his secondary editor Lieutenant Jack Pearson (George Kemp) they create pages of stories, poetry and gags which would’ve been issued to make life seem that bit more bearable and do a grand job being a “bunch of amateurs” through comedy we see how in adverse conditions these soldiers managed to create the legacy of these brave men.
James Dutton, playing the lead role as Captain Roberts, is a perfect fit for the show his skills as an actor I could second to none, and really drew the audience’s attention and captured the imagination.
The whole cast really deserve credit, they appear to work tirelessly giving the audience the best possible theatre experience, from quick ditties to full stage dance routines it really has something for everyone!
Even though it is set 100 years ago the humour still relates today and you can see things haven’t really changed in that time and will be great for young and old, educating the young and bringing the past nearer to older generations who may have had or known relatives in the Great War and seeing how the great British humour pulled them through.
Special thanks to the Palace Theatre, having lived in the Southend area for 8 years we’d never visited the Palace and we were very dubious as we were used to the big stage of the Cliffs Pavilion, but the venue exceeded our expectations, it’s a beautiful layout, and doesn’t feel overcrowded even though it was a packed first night, the staff couldn’t be any more helpful and we cannot wait to return.
We recommend parking at Hamlet Court Road about a 5 minute walk away and is free after 6pm or if you’re lucky enough to grab a space in the road the restrictions end at 6pm but there are local bus routes going straight past the theatre.
Tickets cost from £22.50 to £32 (booking fees may apply).
The Wipers Times is at the Palace Theatre in Southend from 9-14 October 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit southendtheatres.org.uk or call the box office on 01702 351135.
Palace Theatre, 430 London Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, SS0 9LA | 01702 351135