Yesterday afternoon I was fortunate to get along to St. Faith's Church Hall at Lee-on-the-Solent to watch this amazing production of Five Beaches, a stark play about the D-Day landings written to commorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
After spending time in London last week, looking at the poppies at The Tower, and thinking a lot about the hundreds of thousands of men killed in the first world war, this play really brought home to me something of what it may have been like for the young men who fought and died, or survived the second world war - specifically the D-Day landings. Just a generation ago for me, as my father was a soldier in the second world war so only a lifetime away.
It says on the programme that Five Beaches is 'powerful, raw and challenging'. It certainly is that! Without use of scenery or props, light or sound to support the play, the ten young men portrayed the wait for the command on this side of the channel, the journey across the sea to France and the landings on the five beaches on the morning of D-Day in 1944, showing the fear, the bravado, the horror as they witnessed their friends drowing or being slaughtered as they went ashore. All this was achieved with the use of their own voices and the use of movement in a stylised way. Physical theatre at its best. The cast tugged at the heart strings of the audience with the use of hymns, belting out with gusto For Those in Peril on the Sea, Land of Hope and Glory and Jeruselum.
It would be unfair to pick out any of the cast as shining above the others. This was truly an ensemble piece and all of the following should be proud of their achievement:
Cam Holding, Tom Irving, Fergus Ross, Jake Wright, Jake Young, Leighton Huntingdon, Aiden Hammond, Adam Connor Shaman Falvey Enfield, Isaac Ross.
Directed by Helen Jones.
Five Beaches is written by Bay House Writer in Residence, Zella Compton.
It was announced at the end of the play that this was to be the last performance of the piece. I certainly hope that these young men get a chance to perform it again. It's a play that needs to be seen.