Skip to main content

Soulpepper's Oh What A Lovely War

Oh What A Lovely War!
Soulpepper Theatre Company
Written by Joan Littlewood, Theatre Workshop & Charles Chilton
Directed by Albert Schultz
Musical Direction by Marek Norman - see full cast list below

The Young Centre, Toronto - continues to April 10

The horrible conditions suffered by soldiers, the naive assertions by political figures of a quick and easy victory and general stupidity of the upper echelons who remain safely behind the battle lines, the cold and callous profiteering as whole nations bleed and lie in ruins - sound familiar? The study of history is often "justified" by saying that what we learn, we won't then repeat, but more often than not, serves to underline just how little we have learned. Oh What A Lovely War was written in 1963 about WWI - the War to End All Wars - but its obervations, sadly, still ring loud and clear today.

Playwright Joan Littlewood, a visionary largely credited with giving birth to modern British theatre, conceived of the project for her remarkable Theatre Workshop company in London, as irreverent and above all entertaining even as it takes a clear eyed look at the subject. Her focus is on the stories of the common soldiers as they suffered, and the show trips along from musical interlude to song and dance to more and often less serious vignette at a rollicking pace. It's brought to life by a large ensemble cast of incredibly talented performers who nimbly switch from drama to comedy to song to playing instruments without a misstep. The laughs are plentiful even as the darker truths sting, and even if it's through your great-grandma, you'll recognize songs like Pack up Your Troubles in the Old Kitbag, It’s a Long Way to Tipperary and Keep the Home Fires Burning. Musical direction by Marek Norman virtually flawless

The multi talented performers are aided and abetted by imaginative staging and highly detailed costuming, (by Ken MacKenzie & Lorenzo Savoini respectively). The base costume, if you will, was a pure white clownsuit (the laundry!) befitting the nature of the project, replaced or embellished on occasion to change into and out of a raft of characters from soldier to politician to general or damsel waving - and urging on - the boys good-bye in a way that keeps an engaging visual flow. As a tribute to its entertainment value, I was actually quite surprised to find I'd spent about 2 and a half hours in the theatre (with an intermission). (Image is of Karen Rae).

The numbers are staggering - 10 million dead, 21 million wounded, 7 million missing, and 21,000 Americans who became millionaires by supplying the goods and services that prolonged the misery (although the Americans were by no means the only nation to do so!) Our high tech modern wars claim to reduce civilian casualties, but then don't tell us the actual numbers... as Oh What A Lovely War reminds us as it bounces along, it's a part of the human experience that certainly doesn't serve us well.

Cast: Ins Choi, Tatjana Cornij, Oliver Dennis, Raquel Duffy, Ryan Field, Michael Hanrahan, Alison Jutzi, George Masswohl, Gregory Prest, Doug Price, Karen Rae, Mike Ross, Jason Patrick Rothery, and Brendan Wall. (Image is of Brendan Wall, Oliver Dennis & Gregory Prest.)

Image of Joan Littlewood from Joan's Book: The Autobiography of Joan Littlewood. London: Methuen.
Production Photos by Cylla von Tiedemann, courtesy of Soulpepper.

Also on view at the Young Centre - The Aleph - what sounds like a very interesting theatrical collaboration and workshop performance series.


Popular posts from this blog

Film News - imagineNATIVE Embargo Collective at the Berlin Film Fest

Hot Off the Presses:
(and gosh, doesn't that expression sound quaint these days?)

to have its European Premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival 2010
(Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin 11.-21.02.10)

(Toronto, February 3rd, 2010) The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is pleased to announce the official selection of the festival’s Embargo Collective programme for the Forum Expanded section of this year’s Berlin International Film Festival. This programme of works was commissioned by the imagineNATIVE festival for its 10th anniversary and will have its European premiere Monday, February 15th, 8.30pm at Cinema Arsenal 2 and a repeat screening Wednesday, February 17th, 4pm at CinemaxX 6.

Curated by imagineNATIVE’s Artistic Director Danis Goulet, the Embargo Collective is an international group of seven Indigenous artists at the forefront of the changing global landscape of Indigenous cinema. Inspired by Lars von Trier’s The Five Obstructi…

Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company Spring 2013 Toronto Performances

From a media release:

The new season brings
Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company
to new heights and new audiences

March 20-24, 2013 - A Night in Madrid
April 25-28, 2013 - Annual Toronto Season - World Premiere of Portales

TORONTO : Following on the heels of Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company's (EESDC) 30th anniversary year where its production Aguas/Waters was named one of the top five dance shows of 2012 by NOW Magazine, the early months of 2013 are full of excitement and possibility for Esmeralda and the company, which brings the finest flamenco and Spanish Classical Dance to Toronto stages.

March 20-24, 2013 - A Night in Madrid
Company dancers Esmeralda Enrique and Paloma Cortés perform Spanish Classical dance with the celebrated Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir for A Night in Madrid featuring the Iberian flavoured music of composer Luigi Boccherini who made his home in Spain. His work is infused with the sounds of Spanish and gypsy folk music.

March 20-24 …

Guitar Rock | Happy Freuds - Echo Of Sounds Independent: May 31, 2019

Guitar Rock
Happy Freuds - Echo Of Sounds
Independent: May 31, 2019
Stream/Buy on Bandcamp
Stream it on Spotify

With tight musicians and intriguing lyrics, Happy Freuds delivers high energy guitar rock with stylistic flair on Echo Of Sounds, their debut release. Produced with a minimum of overdubs or fixes, the album consists of a mix of original material, rearrangements of works from others and selected, less known, classic rock.

A kinetic rhythm section is the bones of the music, offering interesting patterns that augment sometimes unexpected harmonic changes. It's brainy rock, in other words, meant for music lovers who can appreciate the quality. Teo's vocals are raspy and expressive, growly when necessary - perfect for the musical mode. Teo also covers lead guitar, adapt at ear worm leads, with a tone that can be clean or dirty as required

Their sound ranges from straight up hard rock in tracks like The Mountain to the pop-flavoured acoustic Background Noise and folky To …