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Keep Calm and Carry On (South Shields)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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The Customs House, South Shields

Keep Calm and Carry On is a gem of a play, by new writer Helen Russell. The story, set against personal struggles in World War Two, revolves around Mary (Rachel Teate) who wants to leave home and become a singer entertaining the troops. While initially Dad (Stewart Howson) is against the idea, Mum (Bidi Iredale) and Gran (Rosalind Bailey) make him give her the opportunity to attend the auditions. Of course she is offered a part in the show, starts to tour and meets a soldier, Colin (James Hedley) before returning home to inform the family she is getting married. The news, as expected does not go down at all well, but before he leaves for the front line, she marries Colin with her Fathers blessing.

During the war Mary continues to tour, but has to return home to break the news she is pregnant and the father is not her husband, who is still fighting in the War. Family life is never going to be the same again.

Apart from the scenes immediately before and after the interval, which are too long and jar against the rest of the writing, this is a very entertaining play from a new writer. The greatest compliment I can pay is that having recently studied World War Two at school, I took my ten-year-old daughter with me and she sat enthralled throughout.


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