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Forgotten Voices

June 3rd, 2007 (04:58 pm)

The reason that my post about last night's Doctor Who was later than it might have been was that I was at Forgotten Voices at the Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, last night. It's a small-scale play assembled from the testimony of soldiers and a woman munitions worker from the First World War, as published in Max Arthur's book, and set in a room at the Imperial War Museum in 1956, where interviewees swap stories as they drink their tea after being interviewed. It's reasonably successful but not outstanding, despite the efforts of its cast. The best performances are probably those of Matthew Kelly, as former East Lancashire regiment private 'Kidder' Harris, and Tim Woodward as ex-sergeant Todd. I didn't feel I'd learned anything new about the Great War, except added to the stories I'd already heard about conditions during the conflict; bar, perhaps, the experience related by the officer character, played by Rupert Frazer, of being unable to persuade family and friends that the war was not the series of heroic cavalry charges the press liked to depict. The two characters the play fumbled were Frazer's officer - the transition from his appearing as the representative of a remote class with no conception of what the trenches were like, to the recollections of his own experiences of the front, was too sudden and didn't seem part of the same story - and Belinda Lang's munitions worker, Kitty Procter. Kitty was conceived as an awkward character anyway, interrupting with apparent irrelevances, and I'd like to have known whether there was any material in the Imperial War Museum archives which could have allowed her to relate the story of her husband's death with the male characters present.


Posted by: ms_rebecca_riot (ms_rebecca_riot)
Posted at: June 4th, 2007 06:05 am (UTC)
Kris flowers

Sounds interesting. my great grandfather Albert worked at the Woolwich Arsenal in WWII.
I found the Imperial War Museum quite upsetting- despite my museum studies background- so that was quite a shock.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 4th, 2007 08:27 am (UTC)

It's a very long time since I've been to the Imperial War Museum, and I remember nothing about it. Time to go again at some point.

Most of my grandfathers and great-grandfathers were coal miners or were too old to fight in either WWI or WWII, though one of my grandfathers was in the catering corps in WWII.

Posted by: ms_rebecca_riot (ms_rebecca_riot)
Posted at: June 4th, 2007 06:11 pm (UTC)

Interesting- I did know that mine workers were a 'special industry' or whatever the term is. Obviously coal was vital to keeping the nation running. So were your ancestors from Wales or Yorkshire by any chance?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 4th, 2007 06:12 pm (UTC)

Both more remotely, but specifically from County Durham.