Adapted by Emma Reeves from the 1973 novel by Nina Bawden based on her own childhood experiences as an evacuee in Wales during the War, Carrie's War tells of young Carrie Willow and her brother Nick, wartime evacuees billeted to the mining valleys in Wales with old Mr Evans and his kind sister Lou. At Christmas, they’re sent to Druid’s Bottom to collect a goose from Mrs Gotobed where they meet Hepzibah, the witch and eccentric Mister Johnny, and hear about the curse of an ancient skull.
The production, which continues at the Apollo until 12 September is timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II on 3 September. Andrew Loudon directs a cast led by Sarah Edwardson (Carrie), James Joyce (Nick), Kacey Ainsworth (Auntie Lou) and Prunella Scales (Mrs Gotobed), and it continues to 12 September.
There was no real consensus among the reviews, with overnight critics divided squarely into camps – those who welcomed the production as “next best thing to War Horse” in terms of West End family entertainment, and those who felt Carrie's War “old fashioned” and “doggedly literal” in its approach. Of the critics included here, most awarded four stars and praised the “fine directness” of the performances (particularly Edwardson's Carrie) – but the 'two Michaels', messrs Coveney and Billington, were united in their dismissal of the production as a “disservice” to Bawden's book and, without targeting a specific demographic, “an odd addition to the West End list”. However, with no shortage of allies, it doesn't look like Carrie's War will be evacuating the Apollo just yet.
- by Theo Bosanquet & Ashley Alexander