powerful World War One drama comes to Leeds Grand Theatre next month when RC Sherriff’s acclaimed Journey’s End takes to the stage.
Director David Grindley’s revives his celebrated 2004 production for a 23-date UK tour, which stops off at the Grand on May 17-21.
Set in the British trenches at St Quentin in 1918, in the days leading up to the last great German offensive, which saw 38,000 men killed, a company of officers prepare for a daring raid across No Man’s Land to gather intelligence.
Based on Sherriff’s own experience of the front and life in the trenches, it celebrates humour and courage in the face of certain tragedy, and remains an important reminder of the horrors of war and the real, unromanticised heroes who fought it.
David said: “What you see in Journey’s End is the men’s coping mechanisms. In Captain Stanhope’s case, he drinks and he works.
“Osborne, his second-in-command, is 20 years older. He listens. He takes on everyone else’s stories so he doesn’t have to think about his own. Trotter tells jokes and talks about his stomach.
“The only character in the dugout who doesn’t have any way of coping is Hibbert. In one of my favourite scenes of the play Stanhope threatens to shoot him in the head if he tries to go sick.
“Hibbert says ‘fine, do it’. He is utterly desperate. He had got no moment by moment diversion, so he can’t find any way of mitigating his fear.”
The play vividly recreates the claustrophobic atmosphere of the trench, with the action entirely set in the dugout and with literally shocking sound effects as the stalls are filled with the barrage sound of shells.
David added: “It will feel as if you are in the trench. It’s a tiny acting area, very claustrophobic and it’ll feel as if it’s lit by candelight. You will be virtually underground with the actors.”
Tickets for Journey’s End cost £14-£27.50, available from www.leedsgrandtheatre.com or 0844 848 2703.