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This is a Journey that I truly hope will never end!

Review by Emma Whitelaw

THIS is the second time I have seen Journey’s End and I do hope it’s not the last. RC Sherrif’s timeless tale of life and death in the British trenches during the First World War is truly one you could never tire of!

But rather than give you a standard review, and in fear of repeating myself and fellow reviewers, I will instead give you my 10 very good reasons to see the current production, at the Duke of York’s Theatre.

Reason One – This is the 5th review by IndieLondon

This, of course, should be sufficient assurance in itself that this is truly a fantastic show; but it also proves we cannot give it credit enough!

Reason Two – The themes of Journey’s End are timeless

Long since the play premiered in 1929, the themes of friendship, human endurance, hero worship and the futility of war are of equal relevance to an audience of today. The friendship between 2nd Lieutenant Raleigh (Peter Sandys-Clarke), and his high-school hero, Captain Stanhope (Brendan Patricks), takes on a completely new meaning when it is severely tested amidst the horror of war.
The war has changed Stanhope and although he was once Raleigh’s hero, he now fears that the man war has made him, is a far cry from the one Raleigh once knew and loved.
He soon realises that these fears are the least of his worries as the war takes away more than just his pride.

Reason Three – The cast are as superb as ever

I cannot say enough about the casting behind Journey’s End. I was overly impressed with the cast I last saw at the Playhouse production and I must say I am equally impressed this time.
Sandys-Clarke is simply faultless as the young, inexperienced Raleigh, and his enthusiasm, like many other young recruits, is both overwhelming and inspiring. Sandys-Clarke captures the essence of Raleigh’s innocence perfectly.
But Sinclair is just as brilliant as the loveable Lieutenant 'Uncle' Osborne. With wisdom that surpasses his many years, Osborne is the rock that the battalion relies upon.
Ian Burfield is an exceptional actor - his portrayal of 2nd Lieutenant Trotter was both charming and sensitive. He got many a laugh from the audience but there was a seriousness to his portrayal that was also admirable.
And Brendan Patricks was also brilliant as the complex character, Stanhope.
All in all, yet another sublime cast that were truly a pleasure to watch.

Reason Four – There’s the odd chance you may see a ghost!

The current production’s new home, the Duke of York’s Theatre, is as historic as the tale itself.
It is where Peter Pan was brought to life and where Puccini got the name for his most famous opera, Madame Butterfly; the theatre certainly has some very interesting stories behind it.
One of which is the ghost of the woman who was the driving force behind the Duke of York’s for over three decades and who still stalks the theatre to this very day.

Reason Five – It’s so good you should see it more than once

Having seen it a second time, I can safely say with authority that there is much more to see than meets first glance.
Coming away from Journey’s End a second time, I realised just how much more the play has to offer. I find with a well-written play there is much to be gained from a second or even third viewing. I strongly recommend it.

Reason Six – The set is stunning and incredibly realistic

I don’t believe I mentioned this in my last review, but the set certainly is a wonder to behold.
It is possibly the most intricate set I have ever seen, right down to the very last detail, including water on the floor. The design is truly impeccable.

Reason Seven – It’s educational

I was pleasantly surprised to see quite a number of high school students in the audience. I found it inspiring to think that after 75 years, RC Sheriff is still educating his audiences about the futility of war.

Reason Eight – It has the most powerful ending I have ever seen

When the curtain falls on Journey’s End everyone is just so moved; there really isn’t a dry eye in the house.
It almost feels inappropriate to applaud as the cast stand in full uniform in front of the names of the many men that lost their lives, and the Last Post plays.

Reason Nine – The journey truly is cathartic

I believe it is important to be exposed to such tragedy and it is guaranteed to bring you back to Earth. In light of such present horrors as those in Iraq, we need to remember those who gave their lives for the freedom we not only enjoy, but so often take for granted.

Reason Ten – and finally…

We can only tell you so much; you need to see it for yourselves.

Journey’s End by R.C. Sherriff. Directed by David Grindley. Designer Jonathan Fensom, Lighting Designer Jason Taylor, Sound Designer Gregory Clarke, Casting Crowley Poole Casting. Starring Paul Benzing, Paul Brightwell, Ian Burfield, Charles Daish, John Elmes, Ralph Gassmann, Rob Heanley, Brendan Patricks, Peter Sandys-Clarke, Malcolm Sinclair and Rufus Wright. Duke of York’s Theatre, St Martin’s Lane, London WC2. Box Office: 0870 060 6623

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