Journey’s End at Duke of York’s Theatre

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This month the Duke of York’s Theatre plays host to R.C. Sheriff’s Journey’s End, returning to the West End for only 55 performances before embarking on a national tour.

It’s a devastating story, based on the author’s own experiences of life in the trenches. A brave young group of officers face the tragedy and terror of the Great War with courage and humour.

The play is brilliantly executed thanks to the powerful vision of director David Grindley; he draws on the smallest subtleties and nuances in the script to create an intense piece of drama. It helps that the all male cast are faultless, presenting themselves with such conviction that it is painfully moving from start to finish.

Graham Butler is exquisite as the young hero worshipper, Raleigh. He is the newest and youngest addition to the company arriving with an insatiable energy. His commanding officer Captain Stanhope is quite the opposite, despite only being three years older, he is bitter and hardened by his time at war. James Norton gives a mesmerising performance as the bullying Stanhope.

Designer Jonathan Fensom has created a simple but effective set that really draws you into the action. Only using half the height of the stage, it is a claustrophobic dirty trench, equipped with only the meagre necessities. Despite being written in the 1920s, Sheriff’s account of the First World War experience remains a profound, touching and undated memoir.

Journey’s End at the Duke of York’s theatre until 3 Sep 2011. Book tickets