First World War centenary: Heartbreak of the ‘lost generation’ explored in new play at Redbridge Drama Centre

PUBLISHED: 09:00 11 September 2014 | UPDATED: 10:41 11 September 2014

Image from rehearsals for The Muddy Choir. [Picture: Theatre Centre]

Image from rehearsals for The Muddy Choir. [Picture: Theatre Centre]


The “lost generation” of the First World War, who sacrificed life and limb in the trenches, are the focus of a new play.

Image from rehearsals for The Muddy Choir. [Picture: Theatre Centre] Image from rehearsals for The Muddy Choir. [Picture: Theatre Centre]

Redbridge Drama Centre is hosting The Muddy Choir, which tells the tale of three young men who were thrust into the conflict in its latter years.

The play, commissioned and produced by Theatre Centre, is aimed at younger audiences and is being held to mark the centenary of the war.

Natalie Wilson, director of The Muddy Choir and artistic director at Theatre Centre, said: “I was keen to have a new play written that embraced the stories of the teenage men in the trenches, moving us on from the more common discourses of the war poets, War Horse and Blackadder.

“I wanted to depict the young, teenage face of the whole catastrophe that was 1914 to 1918.”

Image from rehearsals for The Muddy Choir. [Picture: Theatre Centre] Image from rehearsals for The Muddy Choir. [Picture: Theatre Centre]

The play tells the story of Sunderland boys Will, Robbie and Jumbo, who are thrust into the war in November 1917 as the bloody Third Battle of Ypres comes to an end.

The young men bring with them their passion for music, but their singing brings them unwelcome attention from their superiors.

The production explores both the power of music and the strength of friendship in unthinkable circumstances.

Its writer, Jesse Briton, said: “I think the resonance for young people is the fact that the boys in the story have to deal with exactly the same pressures as young people today.

“The only difference being that the boys in our story have to do this under very unusual and incredibly stressful circumstances.

“In this centenary year, there’s a particular significance in bringing to schools and venues work that reflects the reality of the First World War for the millions caught up in it.”

The Muddy Choir will be performed at 2pm and 8pm today and 4pm tomorrow.

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