LETTERS FROM THE FRONT -Upstage Theatre Company & Noarlunga Theatre Company

LETTERS FROM THE FRONT -Upstage Theatre Company & Noarlunga Theatre Company

Reviewed by Richard Lane

April 2015

Amid the flag waving and myriad Anzac media frenzy, a local Southern community theatre company presented their tribute to the Anzac Centenary.The Noarlunga Theatre Company in conjunction with Upstage Theatre presented their show Letters from the Front- A Tribute to the Anzacs.

The show is in the format of  genuine letters  from soldiers  at the front, comedy sketches, songs and occasional dance.

Many of the letters are heart-rending  and mostly sentimental, demonstrating the horror of this “war to end all wars.” The letters were written from the perspective  of the men at the front  often with large doses of Australian humour which of course protected those at home from the reality of the war and enabled the soldiers to cope  somehow.

The stage setting was minimalist and multi- purpose, a pile of sandbags  on one side to represent the trenches and the rest of the stage, empty. The songs and sketches were done down front as the space was set up as a sound stage deploying  several microphones. The skits were  written by Suzanne Moncke, and whilst some of them didn’t always hit the spot, they mostly told the tale in support of the letters. 

The songs were well known War favourites  of  the time and fitted the bill nicely. The music was in the capable hands of wonderful music director John Penberthy. The costumes were cobbled together by Violet Rowe and Elaine Penberthy and were to a certain extent, redolent of the period.

Mon Cochrane’s lighting was suitably dim  to suit the dark times, and Brady Gambling’s military props  served their purpose.

In such a show as this, it would be churlish to single out  any particular actor as “hit” of the night, so safe to say that all performed well:- John Martin (Director), Paul McLean, Stephen Popowski, Paul Trueack, Brady Gambling, Deidre  Quinn, Annette McLean, Shelley Pontiac and Cherylene O’Brien.

The last number sung by the ensemble , And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda  by  Australian songwriter Eric Bogle was  so appropriate and very moving.

Excellent effort by Upstage Theatre- who certainly  “remembered them.”

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