Philobiblon: After the war, the broken hearts

Sunday, January 15, 2006

After the war, the broken hearts

The war is over; now celebrate. We've all seen images of what the end of a war - a real, nation-threatening war - looks like: complete strangers kissing fervently in the street, dancing in the fountains, a general state of euphoria.

Yet a war leaves scars, and covers over problems that will now re-emerge. That's as true in the victorious Sparta as John Ford's The Broken Heart opens, as it was in Britain in 1944, and so the staging of the play in 1940s dress in a new production at the White Bear Theatre comes to make perfect sense.

With all of its surging hormones and thwarted passions this is a play suited to a mostly young cast, yet it is still a brave project for Secret Centre Theatre to take on with a group of actors just out of drama school.

Yet this is a successful production, even a triumphant production. These grand, tragic characters (it is easy to see why the early 19th-century Romantics loved this play) are played not as archetypes, but as real humans wrestling with their problems - if often spectacularly unsuccessfully. A few of the minor characters in the cast of 17 struggle with the Caroline language, but generally it is delivered with verve and pace, carrying the audience along with it. READ MORE


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