It's a Woman's War

This show invites us to take a look at life in wartime Britain. It is the year 1916 and we follow several women through the stress and hardship of contributing to the war effort while trying to carry on with everyday life.

Each character is constructed well and the show very comfortably drifts between light hearted chatter, grippingly tense moments of drama and, occasionally, moments of impeccable comic timing.

The whole show is carried wonderfully by a very talented ensemble cast. The chemistry between them is fantastic, and the moment each actor entered we clearly grasped exactly what their relationship was with everyone else onstage. In particular, Ella Downing's portrayal of Anna really shines through as the highlight of the show. Downing perfectly captures every emotion Anna goes through as she deals with her husband being at war. At times this becomes truly heart-wrenching, especially during her scenes with Philip (Sam Dobinson).

It's A Woman's War is written and directed by Sarah Lawrence and Alex Nolan and, on the whole, it is staged beautifully. Each character is constructed well and the show very comfortably drifts between light hearted chatter, grippingly tense moments of drama and, occasionally, moments of impeccable comic timing. These comedic moments are superbly placed to diffuse any tensions between characters without detracting from the emotional depth of the play.

There are, however, moments that are a little weaker. The opening scene almost crossed the line into exaggeration and caricature as Dorothea, played by Becca Kohler, continually expresses her enthusiasm for making jam and attempts to enforce expected societal rules on all of the other women. Thankfully this soon diffuses, as Kohler cleverly avoids this stereotype and Dorothea does not remain a dated old bore. 

Another moment that sticks out as odd comes in the form of a loud, anguished exclamation followed by the word "dammit!" Though this did not take anything away from the performance, the line itself feels like an out of place cliche. That said, the show's many strengths far outweigh these problems and I left with my heart thoroughly warmed.

Reviews by Alex Hargreaves

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The Blurb

It is 1916. The Great War has been raging for close to two years; the body count is mounting; conscription is breathing down the necks of young men; and The Stratford Women’s Players meet for their first rehearsal. It's a Woman's War is the story of a woman's group in East London who put aside their jam making to rehearse a play for the recovering soldiers. We journey with Minnie, Dorothea, Louisa, Alice and Anna through hardship, joys, friendships and tragedy, following five very personal experiences of war on the home front.

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