Visit London Blog » first world war Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 18 Apr 2014 09:00:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Video of the Week: Museum of London’s Wartime Photographs Fri, 11 Apr 2014 13:58:06 +0000

In this moving video, Museum of London Curator of Photography Anna Sparham talks about the museum’s new acquisition of 2,500 images from the UK’s first female press photographer Christina Broom, including incredible pictures of soldiers going off to fight in World War One. The exhibition of Broom’s images is free and will run until 28 September. It is one of many events taking place in London this summer to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War.

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Journey’s End at Duke of York’s Theatre Mon, 01 Aug 2011 17:16:46 +0000

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

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Birdsong at The Comedy Theatre Wed, 10 Nov 2010 11:30:50 +0000

Sebastian Faulks’ harrowing novel Birdsong has been adapted for the stage and has its first run at London’s The Comedy Theatre . This play has a star line-up, with director Trevor Nunn, and many wonderful actors.

Birdsong follows a young man’s journey through a great love and a great war. The play is split into three sections. The long opening act concentrates on the young Englishman Stephen Wraysford as he visits Amiens and falls in love with a married woman, played by the rather stiff Genevieve O’Reilly.

I found the second two acts more convincing than the first. After the interval Birdsong shows the vile horror of World War I, like I have never seen it portrayed before. Every aspect of the painful anguish and devastation is realised through haunting acting and clever dramatics. The stage is impressively constructed to show the claustrobic tunnels and trenches, and smoke effects create further atmosphere. Just before the second interval a great clash and cloud of powder wafts over the audience, an incredible sensation and evocative transition to mark the start of the war.

I loved watching Lee Ross who plays one of the central characters, Jack Firebrace. The kindness and bravery of this character within the turmoil of war gives the story real strength and substance, and Ross’s characterisation reflects this with a touching morality.

I left feeling moved and educated, and now would like to read the original book.

With Remembrance Day in London tomorrow, the show feels particularly poignant.

The play continues until 15 January 2011. Book Birdsong tickets here.

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