Silent Night (Tour – Liverpool)

Richard Woodward adores this imaginative production at Liverpool Cathedral.

Silent Night
Silent Night
© Theatre in the Quarter

Silent Night is based on the true story of the Christmas Truce of 1914 which took place on the Western Front.

It's currently receiving media attention as this is the narrative Sainsbury's have adopted for their Christmas advert. But if you're unfamiliar with it, for one Christmas day, both German and British soldiers laid aside the weapons of war, met, shared food, swapped presents, played football and for a brief time were young friends who could sing and joke, before unknown to them there would be another four years of dreadful atrocities.

Understandably the story is everywhere at the moment. As well as the supermarkett asvert, next week the Royal Shakespeare is presenting a production based on these events. But it will be very hard to find a better retelling of the story than in this production by Chester based Theatre in the Quarter.

At once intimate and yet covering the whole panorama of places and happenings this play grips from the start and sweeps the audience along in a tale that is wryly humorous, touching, dramatic, romantic and a wonderful tribute to all those young people who ‘gave their tomorrow for our today'.

Simply staged on a wooden tiered structure with some excellent visual images as background we are taken from the idyllic River Dee bathed in sunshine into the waterlogged, rat-infested trenches and each scene is captured with such economy but none the less powerful. The whole thing is imaginatively and wonderfully designed and directed.

Emma Lucia directs with flair ensuring the piece never loses its pace and she achieves such intensity and yet the play is always accessible and the narrative crystal clear.

Some popular songs of the period and wonderful original music add immeasurably to the success of the production and the community chorus performs a sterling job punctuating the action with its emotive renditions.

At the centre of the play are the Characters Alice, her brother Joe and her fiancé Walter and their story highlights without any schmaltz a tale of ordinary folk caught up in such a dreadful situation.

Aled Bidder, Hannah Good and Tom Lincoln play all the parts with such truthfulness as they cover every emotion and change roles with amazing dexterity. This is a quartet of fine actors.

There is so much to praise in this production but perhaps the best tribute would be to write that it will stay in the mind for a long time to come.

This is an impressive evening in the theatre – a play for all people and remarkable value. The company should be charging double. Grab a ticket while you can.

Silent Night continues to tour until 6 December and full dates are here.