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Lotty's War (Tour - Manchester)

An emotional insight into the moral dilemma of war, says Julia Taylor at the Manchester Opera House.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Olivia Hallinan (Lotty) & Mark Letheren in Lotty's War by Giuliano Crispini
© Lott's War Ltd/Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Guildford

The Germans came close to invading Britain when they took over the Channel Islands in 1940. Thankfully, although the occupation there lasted for five years, they never reached the main land. But the islanders suffered terribly. The people of Guernsey where Giuliano Crispini's, Lotty's War, adapted by Clare Slater, is set, were starving.

Lotty is 17 and caring for her father after her mother and sister have evacuated to Britain. He is killed when the harbour is bombed and her house is taken over by Rolf, a German officer.

The hated Germans were regarded as black compared with the snow white natives but life isn't like that. Sometimes things are grey.

For, conveyed well by Mark Letheren, we realise that General Rolf Bernberg is not all bad. He is warm-hearted with a delightful sense of humour and when he and Lotty eventually couple up, he appears to be caring.

Lotty's other longstanding boyfriend is Ben, played by Adam Gillen, a Peter Pan figure who, after five years as a member of the resistance, never seems to grow up. And his part in the play's resolution is shocking.

Of course, the fulcrum is Lotty herself. We see her develop and mature as she comes to love a man who is a hands on murderer. One wonders whether she is a collaborator or just a woman who finds herself in a moral dilemma.

Olivia Hallinan conveys well the difficulties faced by a vulnerable young woman in ths moving production.

Bruce Guthrie's direction is so fluid that it encourages a frisson of unspoken feelings in his cast. This is an excellent play and well worth seeing.

Lotty's War is at the Manchester Opera House until 4 October.