Burneside Amateur Theatrical Society stage powerful wartime drama

The Westmorland Gazette: Burneside Amateur Theatrical Society stage powerful drama Burneside Amateur Theatrical Society stage powerful drama

THE Accrington Pals is a poignant drama based on a real-life story.

Set on the eve of the First World War, the young men of Accrington hear Kitchener’s call for a New Army and become the smallest town in England to raise a Pals Volunteer Brigade.

Peter Whelan’s intimate, moving and at times funny, play is being staged by Burneside Amateur Theatrical Society at The Bryce from Thursday to Saturday, May 29-31 (7.30pm).

Charting the fortunes of a close-knit community on the brink of change, BATS stage the play to commemorate the centenary of the start of First World War.

In the director’s chair once again, Gordon Lawson said that he hadn’t directed a play so emotionally charged before and directing some of the scenes had been as difficult for him as for the cast.

He added: “Being a naturally reticent and shy Brit, asking for the levels of emotion required to really convey this piece has been hard. But with the support of the cast, we've got there and I think this will prove to be the most demanding play that BATS has yet completed.”

When the Pals arrive in France, the brutal reality of the trenches is beyond anything they were prepared for.

And back home among the women they leave behind – their mothers, wives, daughters, lovers – nothing can ever be the same again.

“Each character is really well drawn,” continued Gordon. “And the story, while familiar, is played out across a backstory of real social change, which I also felt held up a mirror to our own times.You only have to look what is happening in eastern Europe to draw parallels with world politics in 1914 and to see comparisons with the social changes that Britain is experiencing now as the country emerges from a period of economic stagnation.”

The Accrington Pals portrays the devastating effects of war on a Lancashire mill town and the suffering of everyday people.

And with a strong and committed cast gathered by Gordon, it looks like being one of BATS most powerful productions yet.

Box office 07792-777213.

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