Review by Peter Breach, NODA
This play was adapted from the fourth and final series of the BBC sitcom “Blackadder”. Set in 1917 in the front line trenches during the First World War and presented as a comedy, the play certainly does not trivialise the horrors of war. Many of the terrible conditions that prevailed and the effect of nonsensical orders given by distant commanders are revealed.
The principal players performed some very good imitations of the characters that appeared in the TV series and a good pace was maintained throughout but there was little evidence of them bonding, despite being subjected to such deprivation and life threatening conditions. Clear diction and good projection ensured that none of the comedic content contained in the writing was lost.
I thought the set was well constructed, particularly the facility that afforded a quick switch to General Melchett’s office. However, bearing in mind this was part of a theatre of trench warfare they were engaged in, it did seem to me that the conditions were a little more spacious, light and comfortable than they actually would have been at the time and some of the washing being hung out was amazingly clean! The uniforms were appropriate for the period.
Although much mirth was generated during the performance I found the ending to be both poignant and moving. Such is the importance of this work sixth-formers studying the English literature A-level course designed by the AQA exam board are now able to use the final series of this BBC hit comedy in a paper on the poetry, prose and drama of the First World War and its aftermath.