|The Concord Journal|
The direction is 'crisp' in The Concord Playrs' World War II drama
|By Parkman Howe|
If there is one war worth recalling, it has to be World War II. Nothing less than western civilization was at stake. The enemy deserved villification, and for England at least is was her finest hour.
Perhaps because of the purity of the conflict, movies and plays set in the World War II are so unabashedly romantic and satisfying.
And A Nightingale Sang belongs firmly in this genre. Helen Stott, the play's heroine and narrator, recalls how her family survived WWII in a working class district of Newcastle in the north of England. Air raid sirens, civil defense helmets, food ration books, husbands and boy friends home on leave, and the exuberant and lyric songs of both World Wars all steep Helen's bittersweet love story with her faithless soldier like a strong cup of English tea. They don't make 'em like this anymore.
Once again The Concord Players has assembled a cast and production crew which rival any theater in Boston.
Director Michael Allosso has set the play in the three quarters round which gives it the intimacy it deserves. His crisp, clean direction brings a spritely vigor to a production which runs just over three hours.
Much of the play's authenticity and charm hangs on the burrs of the northern English dialect, Joan Garnett, the productions' dialect consultant, has reproduced the nuances of Northumbrian English with the authority of James Herriot.
In addition, set, costume and lighting design all enhance the productions' professional measure.
The real applause goes to the cast who never fail to delight and touch our sympathies. David Hannegan's quirky grandfather, Louise Hannegan's devotional mother, and Tony Carrigan's piano playing father capture the pluck and grit of the older generations.
The roses go to Susan Ellsworth as Helen Stott, the narator/ heroine of the play. Ms. Ellsworth slips in and out of scenes and roles with an ease and grace that give her memories the magical impulse of fairy tales. Her presence and vitality carry the show.
Veronica Froelich as Joyce Stott, Jonathan Niles as Eric and John Cross as Norman all give vivid portrayal of a generation swept up in the romance and confusion of war.
The roses go to Susan Ellsworth as Helen Stott, the narator/heroine of the play. Ms. Ellsworth slips in and out of scenes and roles with an ease and grace that give her memories the magical impulse of fairy tales. Her presence and vitality carry the show.
"Never such innocence again" wrote Philip Larkin of World War I.
Watching And A Nightingale Sang one is reminded of those words, as each subsequest war in this century appears to outdo its predecdssor in barbarity.
Perhaps only memory restores to war an innocence it never possessed, an innocence which allows us to laugh at old dangers, hold their romance close, and enlist for new horrors.