A/V Room









No End To Journey’s Run of Success

Review by Emma Whitelaw

IT ISN'T often that I find myself moved to the point of tears, especially at the theatre. But I was certainly not on my own; there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as the Last Post played and the curtains came down on Journey’s End in it’s new home at The Playhouse Theatre.

To describe this production as absolutely amazing would be an understatement! It is possibly the best thing I’ve seen all year.

The cast are brilliant; the set fantastic, the sound unbelievable and the lighting and costumes are very much on par. In fact, I find it impossible to find fault! Every element of the entire show was utterly flawless.

Having been written over 70 years ago, Journey’s End is as relevant to today’s audiences as it was in its premiere in 1929.

The story highlights the harsh realities and the futility of war. The characters are so very real. It is as though their every emotion, the fear, the excitement, the sorrow is your own. The camaraderie extends beyond the stage; by the end it feels as though you are old mates.

The story takes place in 1918, in the three days leading up to Operation Michael, one of the most brutal battles of the First World War. Inside a dark and dingy dugout, we are introduced to the men of the 9th Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment.

Led by Captain Stanhope, played by David Sturzaker, the men are a mixed bunch. They come from all walks of life, yet they have one common bond, to serve their country and the hope to one day make it home.

Second in command, Lieutenant Osbourne, is referred to by most of the men as 'Uncle'. Played brilliantly by Philip Franks, he is an amicable fellow, level-headed, kind-hearted and most of all, wise.

A former School Master, he is like a father-figure to the men. He offers sensible advice and protects the younger men from the harsh realities of the grim fate that lies ahead.

The incredibly talented Toby Kebbell plays 2nd Lieutenant Raleigh. It is his first time in the fields and Raleigh is assigned to Stanhope’s Battalion. As a former schoolmate and family friend of Stanhope, he is extremely excited to be there.

However, the feeling is most certainly not mutual for Stanhope. He fears Raleigh’s admiration will soon turn to disgust when he realises the man he has become. The war has changed him and Stanhope believes he is no longer the 'hero' Raleigh once knew.

The play is extremely well written. R.C. Sherriff allows us, as an audience, to view the human side of the Great War under a microscope.

He has penned it in such a way that it transcends what we know of history. He takes us beyond the frontline and into the hearts and souls of the brave men.

He is completely unbiased; the Germans are depicted equally as well as the British. On both sides of the battlefield, we find men bravely doing their duty for their own country. Bravery is not merely an option, but a means of survival.

Journey’s End is both powerful and poignant. It highlights how hopelessly wasteful those battles were. In it, we find a subtle reminder of the futility of war and the hope that we can one day learn from past mistakes.

Theatre this brilliant needs no further comment – except that you simply must see it!

Journey’s End by R.C. Sherriff. Directed by David Grindley. Starring Guy Williams, Philip Franks, Pearce Quigley, Toby Kebbell, David Sturzaker, Paul Bradley, Alex Grimwood, Ifan Meredith, Bob Barrett, Max Berendt, John R Mahoney, Alex Grimwood. Playhouse Theatre Northumberland Ave WC2. Box Office 0870 060 6622 or

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