The Accrington Pals (2015)
by Peter Whelan
Directed by Lisa Thomas
In 1915 the British Army, running out of men to fight in the trenches, introduced a policy of recruitment based on enticing men into the army from the same towns. Lord Mayors were encouraged to call for volunteers from the same towns and the famous Pals regiments were formed. Accrington, a small mill town in Lancashire, was the smallest town in England to field a full battalion of a thousand men. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme "the Pals" were in the front line that walked towards the German trenches believing the generals' promise that it would be a pushover. Contemporary accounts say that there was not a family in Accrington that had not lost a father, son or brother. One woman lost her husband and three sons. The effect on the town was so disastrous that the government dropped the policy almost immediately.
- Tom Hackford - Apatu Storey
- May Hassal - Ali Hulett
- Arthur Boggis - David Carr
- Annie Boggis - Audrey Lindsay
- Reggie Boggis - Louie Chapman
- Ralph - Owen Chidlaw
- Eva Mason - Laura Yandell
- Sarah Harding - Fiona Daffern
- Bertha Treecott - Elena Christie
- C.S.M. Rivers - Steve Anstee
- Assistant Director - Kait Feeney
- Stage Manager - Adam Crook
- Scenic Artists - Hazel Hindle & Carole Ironside
- Lighting and Sound Design - Bob Callender
- Lighting & Sound Operation - Kathryn Ramsay
- Military Uniforms & Props - Khaki Devil & Kait Feeney
- Props - Alan Buckman
- Poster & Programme Design - Bryon Fear
So Accrington Pals! Where to begin? Firstly with hearty congrats to a steadfast cast-not one weak link among you! (Even England's Glory shone!) Every actor stood out in their assigned roles-brought that person to life and made it absolutely right for the era and the community from whence they came. Special mentions to the absolutely spot on romantic inclinations of Laura Yandell and Owen Chidlaw who just epitomised the kind of love affair born in times of war.. A beautifully balanced piece of theatre flowing seamlessly from the funny to the gut wrenching awfulness of loss- do not miss!! Well done Miss Director, cast and crew!
A very moving production. Well done to all. Up The Pals!
Thanks to Lisa and the cast for letting me get a sneak preview last night (I did post last night, but for some obscure reason has not appeared on SLT FB!). Some really strong performances, great costumes and props, and really interesting perspectives on those left behind in WWI. And Owen Chidlaw as you've never seen him before - well, at least I haven't. Well done Lisa Thomas and all concerned - have a great run. Go see it people!
Just come back from watching the The Accrington Pals at the South London Theatre - a fascinating play which is concerned more with the details than the bigger picture. The lives of the characters in the story is the focus and the members of the cast each have beautiful and arresting moments. Once again, set, costume, props and lights exceptionally good. Congratulations to all involved!
Thoroughly enjoyed Accrington pals tonight, well done to everyone involved.
Really enthralling and beautifully crafted.
Mary and Alex Pilling
We so enjoyed the production. You have some fine actors in your group! It was deeply moving and the growing tension between Tom and May was palpable. Thank you for your thoughts on this. You are so right: there is so much in what is not said and in the increasing awkwardness between them. It was very believable. I liked May's gradual revealing of who she is and what she is about - both feisty and vulnerable. I loved the way she played it and she is eminently watchable.
I thought the wonderful Lancashire humour was played really well, with no lines thrown away (as I have seen in other productions). The actresses playing Sarah and Annie seemed to be naturals to me. Shades of Coronation St! Your Sergeant had an intensity that I have not seen before. It was emotionally gripping and quietly disturbing. Your set and lighting worked brilliantly I thought. You are well equipped at the theatre for angles, etc! We are so pleased we made the journey to come.
Margaret Johnson (came all the way from Herts to see the production)
Reminiscences and Anecdotes
We received this lovely note from Megan, Peter Whelan's daughter:
Break a leg tonight! If my father were still with us you would have had a beautifully hand made good luck card probably featuring a pun of some sort which I had intended to emulate but as ever time got away from me so I am afraid this message will have to stand in for it. Dad would have been delighted that SLT was doing Accrington Pals as he had a strong feeling for the theatre from the times he visited during The Earthly Paradise and The Pals is a very personal piece. He is being awarded a posthumous honorary doctorate this week in Stoke on Trent and the whole Whelan family is going for a few nights so I am afraid we can't do the group visit we had hoped for but I am hoping to be there on Saturday for the last night to represent (M6 permitting). Up the Pals! Megan (nee Whelan) x