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There Is A War at Watford Palace Theatre****
10:50am Tuesday 10th April 2012 in Freetime
Tom Basden’s There is a War, presented by Hertfordshire County Youth Theatre, throws the audience into a futuristic war zone between the Blues and the Greys. Neither army knows who started the war and both are unaware of the true events that took place. In fact, neither side has any idea what is going on. Each civilian, doctor or member of the army is simply taking orders from their senior officer (or the world famous star Andy Dog) regardless of the consequences that are indeed devastating.
The story centres on a young doctor named Anne, who wants to make a difference to the war effort; but on her journey to the hospital, she encounters multiple scenarios that represent the many political, economical and inhumane actions that take place in modern warfare and consequently affect each member of society.
Even though the political message behind the play is extremely serious, with the plot revolving around the death of thousands of people, it was an absolutely hilarious performance with larger-than-life characters representing the many issues provoked by war in a humorous, yet powerful, way.
Upon arrival at the Palace Theatre I expected to get my tickets and wait around for the show to begin. This was not the case, as soon as I entered the building I noticed members of the cast interacting with the audience and interrogating them, which was very funny and I felt instantaneously entertained before the show had even started.
I was highly impressed by the professionalism of the young cast, being able to control their characters even while off-stage.
The show was highly enjoyable with great power from the start. Anne played by Harriet O’Neil was excellent, especially when displaying the wide range of emotions that were necessary for the numerous scenes she was in. Her performance was boosted by the co-operation between the whole cast, whose comedic timing was brilliant. Every character held their punchlines very well, with brilliant comedic facial expressions, especially from Jake Lampert and George O’Dell.
The set complemented the script and performance with a great use of levels and trap doors that made the visual aspects of show a great deal more interesting as a spectacle, and allowed the actors to use as much of the stage as possible. The lighting design was consistently good with very nice effects including a flare.
The whole show came together very well and James Williams and his cast and crew should be very proud of their achievements.