As a Glee-loving kid of the 80s, I can with great delight describe Old Kit Bay, currently showing at the quaint Rosebank Theatre, as Mash The Musical!
Now I must be honest, I am not a fan of audience participation. Friends will know that I describe myself as background girl, the very happy observer from the side-line. So when, upon arrival, one of the actors greeted us in character (and with … I think … a Scottish accent), I did look for the nearest exit, just in case. Luckily my less than mediocre re-enactment of the Great Escape was not called for, as I loved every sing-a-long moment of Old Kit Bag. Yes, you read correctly, sing-along.
The concept of the play is simple, delightful and inviting.
With the First World War taking its toll, morale of troops are at an all-time low, and you and your fellow compatriots are attending a talent show put together by The Back to Front Players of the Royal Medical Army Corps at the Medical Battalion in St. Julien. With their comical skill, and a few well-timed squeal resulting pinches in the dark when bombing causes the lights to go out, you are drawn into the warmth of merrymaking that reveals that it is possible to grasp life’s joy with both hands even when standing in the darkness of the war. And if all else fails, sing! Sing about your darling Daisy, you memories of walking on the beach and even that funny hat… but just keep singing!
Although the play is light-hearted, the message is deep. There was a moment when the lighting, beautifully designed for this little box theatre, in the blink of an eye transported the audience from the talent show to the trenches, where the troops sat smoking on New Year’s Eve. Such subtle emotional moments make you realise that you may be sitting safely in a theatre, but somewhere in the world someone wishes they could swap the sound of bombs for that of applause.
This is a theatre experience that will bring a smile to even the sternest of faces. Dare to sing and go support the troops at the Rosebank Theatre until 18 October 2014. Bookings online at Webtickets.
(Scene It by Barbara Loots)