Blue Remembered Hills
Venue : Alderbrook School
Date : May 2006
Genre : Play
‘Blue Remembered Hills’ is a moving piece about a group of school children during the Second World War. First presented as a television film starring Helen Mirren and Michael Elphick, this thought provoking drama allows adult actors to portray primary aged children.
Tony Lacey, Various
Members of Wythall Theatre Company are putting finishing touches to their forthcoming performance of Blue Remembered Hills.
The moving Dennis Potter play will be performed at The Edge at Alderbrook School next week 23 to 26 May from 8 pm.
Seven adult actors will play a group of eight year old friends living during the Second World War. Tickets cost £5 and are available now
War Memories, Sollihull Times, 17th May 2006
A True Ensemble Piece
I like neither Dennis Potter nor adults playing children, so I was a little doubtful about going to see this play. However, I need not have worried as Wythall Theatre Company have scored another triumph with this, a departure from their normal farces and thrillers.
The play tells of a summer afternoon in WWII, and how seven 7 year olds spend their time. By turns funny, poignant and sad, we are taken on a journey from scrumping apples and climbing trees to the uncomfortable issues of a father missing in action & domestic violence.
A true ensemble piece, it would be unfair to single-out any one performance as there was not a weak member in the cast. However, mention must go to Tony Lacey and his outstanding direction, which cleverly transported the characters from the innocence of childhood to facing the sudden and brutal consequences of their actions.
Reviewed by A.S, Redditch Advertiser, 14 June 2006
'They truly WERE little boys...'
Originally written as a BBC television play by Dennis Potter in 1979, 'Blue Remembered Hills' is performed by adults playing the roles of primary school children during the Second World war. It works on many levels and WTC managed to achieve a production which touch them all. Humour, pathos, childishness, the breathless energy of youth, sadness and most poignantly the innocence and cruelties of youth which can sometimes lead to tragedy.
The opening scene featuring Willie (Paul Hughes) and Peter (Adam Lee) was full of the typical energy, bravado, exaggeration, physical and mental cruelty typical of boys of the 7 year olds portrayed. The attention to detail reflected in the costumes and hairstyles, as well as the obligatory dirty knees, hands and faces of the `boys' made the performances seem even more real. They truly WERE little boys and I suspect had a lot of fun in having the licence to be such!
As the play developed and we were introduced to the rest of the characters, each personality became clear and the interaction between them was wonderfully portrayed. The day to day play of these children in the wartime setting was interspersed with the `matter of factness' about the war. The importance of being the toughest, the bravest, the one who would do the dare, the collecting of precious jam jars to make some money, the egging on for a fight, the hurt pride, the laughter, the fears, the cruelties.....
The bravado shown in the stoning of a squirrel and its death at the kicking and stamping feet of the boys - who were not so brave once they realised what they had done especially Raymond (Marcus Bridger) with his toy gun and stutter.
The girls playing their parts as girls do - Audrey's (Anne Cherry) fancying of Peter (much to his embarrassment) and egging on Peter to fight John (Tony Lacey) and Angela (Paula Eaves) preoccupied with her pram and dolly.
The bullying of the strange lad Donald (Ed Parrott) whose dad was a prisoner of war held by the Japanese and the delight taken by Peter and Willie in telling him what horrible things happened to prisoners of the Japanese - children can be so cruel.
The tragedy of the loner Donald who is clearly a damaged child with a fascination for fire - and a supply of glass jars which makes him interesting and of some value to Peter. Donald sets a fire in the barn and the others play a game of keeping him in by holding the doors shut - a sequence excellently portrayed by the cast employing a slow motion technique as the fire exploded out of control and Donald perished inside.....
Reflecting in microcosm the realities of the adult world engaged in a bloody war - being played out in the simple, but very effective studio setting. The actors all used the set and floor space to full effect and created a very believable atmosphere. No matter that the venue had refused to allow their lighting to be used - the fact that this was not missed shows how powerfully the piece was portrayed and performed.
A wonderful script by a writer whose insight into childhood was executed by every single character with real feeling to the point where they WERE children. Following on from the triumph of `The Cemetery Club', this production certainly maintained the exceptionally high standards of this Company.
Reviewed by D.W., WTC Website
What the audience said...
"Charming, funny and moving, this one-act play was an excellent choice for the intimate venue. Superbly acted by all seven of the team, each of whom convincingly portrayed all the angst, humour and contradictions of being a seven year old. This was one of the best hours anyone could have spent in the theatre." T.J.
"Just to say I really was very impressed with the whole show. There wasn't a weak member of the cast and the direction was brill." A.S.
"Brilliant ... as usual - don't expect anything else from WTC." E.M.
"All seven actors were equally strong and I was totally absorbed." D.S.
"It took me back to when I was a child in the war." K.L.
"I loved it. The first of your plays I have seen and I will certainly be back!" R.S.
"It was brill. Very much enjoyed it." Ros. S.
Our Audience, Comments and Social Media
Editorial 'Adults star as children in classic wartime tale'
Wythall Theatre Company returns to the stage with another classic production starting on Tuesday.
The group is staging Dennis Potter's Blue Remembered Hills at teh Gantry Theatre at Alderbrook School in Solihull. They will return to Redditch's Palace Theatre for their next production in November.
Set in the Second World War, Blue Remembered Hills covers events, both comic and tragic, experienced by a group of seven children who are all aged seven but are played by adults.
The play will run until Friday, May 26 and tickets, priced £5, are available.