Skip to main content

Killed - July 17th 1916 at the Looking Glass Theatre, Northampton

Killed tells the story of Billy Dean, a First World War soldier shot for cowardice on July 17th 1916. Originally performed in the eighties, this has been picked up by the Looking Glass Theatre in commemoration of the centenary of the beginning of the war.

Director James Smith has assembled his own quality group of recruits for this production. Particularly Jaz Cox as Billy Dean, who plays him with the sufficient emotion to leave the audience thinking. And thinking is the important part of this play because it gives you no answers. Was Billy a coward or not? Did what happen at the crucial moment amount to cowardice or simply confusion?

For me, I have no answer except for the fact that the shooting of cowards was wrong in any case. A terrible part of history with a tremendous lack of understanding. Some people simply do not have what it takes to go to war and kill people. That does not make them cowards.

However back to the production. Sasha Farmer and Jennifer Styles-Barker are both excellent in their roles, providing the emotional impact of those left behind. David Heathcote as the RSM is also without fault, the perfect collection of shouty (very shouty) army officer and latterly, just that small edge of emotional weakness in his later conversations with Billy Dean. Tim Cole in his multiple roles, provided what little humour could be garnered from such a tough play, and his separate characters where sufficiently different never to be confused.

The set, in the gloriously compact and personal space of the Looking Glass was both very simple, but very effective. Subtle music, simple lighting, and a collection of multi-use boxes and boards. Non invasive and just allowing the actors to do their thing.

Killed is a compelling and historically important play, and it was superb to see so many young people in attendance on my viewing night. This is, as James Smith said in his introduction with his hopes of school touring productions, a play that should be seen through the eyes of the children of today. If that isn't too poet.

These people of the war have now all left us, but that should never mean we should forget them. Also more importantly, we should never forget the crimes that we perpetrated upon some of them.


Killed - July 17th 1916 is on at the Looking Glass Theatre, Northampton until Saturday 31st May, 2014
Details can be found at: http://www.lookingglasstheatre.co.uk/

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Touching The Void at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

For those unfamiliar with this story, this review tells more than you might want to know ahead of seeing it. So, the short review for those who don't know the story of Joe Simpson, go and see this play and then come and read this review if you wish.

Staging the 1985 tale of Joe Simpson and his somewhat unbelievable, if it wasn't true, escape from surviving three days without food and water, a 150 foot fall previous, and following breaking his leg a previous, previous, seems an insurmountable challenge, but with the clever work of writer David Greig, director Tom Morris, and designer Ti Green and the rest of the creative team, we manage during a long and pulsating evening of theatre to reach that peak.

Following a short sequence of flashes of what is to come, we join Simon (Edward Hayter), Richard (Patrick McNamee) and Sarah (Fiona Hampton) at the wake of Joe Simpson, imagined for the stage and a neat way of introducing us to the story. Here Sarah, Joe's sister becomes the …

Review of the University Of Northampton BA (Hons) Acting Graduate Showcase at Leicester Square Theatre, London

The Graduate Showcase was pretty exciting even for me, so heaven knows how it was for the actors actually taking part. Here I was in a gathering of around twenty people (all others infinitely more important than me) at a special closed event at a West End theatre, complete with free drinks and buffet. Fortunately I had Mr Jim aka @mudbeast76 to keep me on the straight and narrow of juices after the one alcoholic one went straight to the head drink. Then as if it wasn't a surreal world as it was, there only goes and walks in Lukewarm himself, Christopher Biggins!

However, this isn't about me, this is about the thirty six ultra talented individuals who after I have followed them for a bit over a year are about to venture forth into the big competitive world of the acting community. They have though the double advantage of not only coming through the excellent three years University Of Northampton training and also being rather talented to help them in this.

This being my first s…

Review of Benidorm Live at Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes

I arrived at Milton Keynes Theatre to see this touring stage version of ITV comedy hit Benidorm with a distinct lack of knowledge. Having never seen the show, my information stretched as far as knowing it was set in a holiday resort in Spain (the title helps there), and that the humour generally resorted to the cruder end of the spectrum. However, having graced the screens for ten years, it was clear that Derren Litten's show had garnered quite a following, and indeed it was clear from the reception of the audience on the night, that this following was pretty much filling the theatre.

The plot, such as it is for this stage show, is very much drafted from an episode of Fawlty Towers, and made a great deal more adult with its humour. The hotel manager, Joyce Temple-Savage (a sharp performance by Sherrie Hewson) gets wind that a hotel inspector is in, and the scene is set for seeking them out and all the obvious cases of mistaken identity. It's thin and doesn't fill the show,…