Journey's End - A Must See Classic

Currently on a UK tour is R. C. Sherriff’s WW1 play ‘Journey’s End’, I’ve just seen it at The Duke of York’s Theatre in London. If you’re interested in the Great War then it’s a must see, and this powerful production does it proud. The casting is spot on, which is so important for the audience to empathise with the characters.

Created by Sherriff from his experiences as an officer in the trenches, they portray and bring together the type of men that became officers and fought the war, how they spoke, their manners, humour and ethos. Today, it might be said these are stereo types, but this was written within 10 years of the war ending, by a man who was there, before many of the cliches that we attribute to the Great War were created.

The first time I saw this play, was at the King’s Head Theatre in Islington. A very small venue so being in the audience was like sharing the dugout with the cast. In front of me was an elderly gentlemen wearing a Middlesex Regiment tie, at the end he left in tears, I’m not sure if he was a veteran of WW1, at the time, I didn’t feel I should ask, now I wish I had. 

I had just started taking the photographs for my book and wanted to learn more about this generation on men from 1914-1918, Journey’s End takes you back in time, into the dugout, sharing their claustrophobic existence, it’s the nearest one can get to sharing the experineces of the trenches with these men. I sit there thinking, I’ve met these men, and feel very privileged!

I shall continue to go to see this play, to bring back the memories of the veterans I’ve met, it’s like Remembrance Sunday, I go once a year.

To gain further knowledge of the British Officer in the First World War, I can recommend a splendid book by John Lewis-Stempel ‘Six Weeks’ (The Short and Gallant Life of the British Officer in the First World War) He describes in detail the type of men that became commissioned officers, culled from letters home, diaries, poems, and anecdotes, he sets out in detail this generation of men.

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