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Killed - July 17th 1916 by Looking Glass Theatre at St Peters Church, Northampton

I first saw Killed by the Looking Glass Theatre in its first incarnation by the company in July 2014. Last weekend I had the pleasure of seeing it in its third version at their new home of St Peters Church. Also new were the cast and unlike that first version, I was familiar with each one of them as all five were the University Of Northampton BA Acting graduates of 2015. Both a masterstroke of casting and a huge extension of kindness of the theatre to give them all these roles.

It was also visionary of them as unlike that first version (with all due respect), these actors were at the very point of their lives to play these roles like no other. All maybe within a year perhaps of the actual characters featured and with the world ahead of them. However sadly these characters portrayed lived in a more terrifying world (although many troubles still remain) and some had no lives ahead of them.

Leading the cast as Billy Dean is Dale Endacott, a recruit who finds himself through a terrible course of events in a devastating situation. Present through much of the play, Endacott brings a softer feel to the role than that I saw before, Subtly allowing the audience to witness the buildup of the events in a none dramatic way. I much preferred this interpretation and those quiet moments of his writing his letter feel all the more powerful for it.

Much less quiet however is Matt Hirst as the R.S.M, staggeringly powerful in his treatment of the new recruits. He was in this the best I have seen him and in his conversation with Billy Dean later in the piece perfectly also in portraying the softer side of the character.

Kate Fenwick as May, Billy Dean's lady back home is a wonderful gentle character, delicately portrayed and leaving the audience in no doubt for her love and indeed loss that is so obviously and tenderly portrayed at the very end in just a look. I also loved that during the interval her remaining on stage for much of it clutching letter in hand.

Matt Larsson has three very different characters to deal with in the play, from the doomed Tommy, the condemning Captain and the emotionally challenged Walsh. All feel very different from each other and easily distinguished in delivery. My favourite had to be the Captain, as it was such a quick switch in character, you wondered for a second whether another actor had joined the stagfe.

Finally we have the wonderful Zoe Davey in her saddening role as Elsie. The loss of her husband etched across her face and her desperation in that scene with the coat clear and obvious. It was however those two speeches that got me, total raw emotion and delivery from the heart. There was also challenging eye contact that pretty much beat me I have to admit to tears. Thanks for the challenge to hold it together Zoe, I am afraid that you got me, so there is no greater compliment to acting than that.

There was a sixth actor present as well, the wonderful St Peters Church, a living and breathing theatre space and with the design that this play performs on, a most perfect space as well. There were subtle changes as well that director James Smith had incorporated, including a much swifter resolution at the end, which was one of the few sticking points of the original. The smoke of battle also had a wonderful atmospheric touch in the church as well. Also much like Hounds a few weeks back, I was pleasantly surprised by the acoustics with no loss of speech.

So an emotional and powerful play performed by some wonderful new actors that in remembrance week effortlessly brought a lump to the throat and a tear to the eye.


Performance reviewed: Sunday 15th October, 2015 by the Looking Glass Theatre at St Peters Church, Northampton.

Killed ran between Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th November, 2015 following a short tour.


Looking Glass Theatre has a website at http://www.lookingglasstheatre.co.uk/



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