Set in the midst of the Second World War as the planes start to fly over the skies of Britain, Leith At War brought a wave of nostalgia to the audience. Accompanied by an exhibition of photos sent in of family members and books of memories, the play focuses on one small family—Frances, who’s around 16, her little brother Alexander, and their Grandfather—on the home front while their father and uncle serve in the Armed Forces and their mother has moved to Penicuik. When a mysterious stranger turns up in the dark of the night, Frances falls madly in love and Alexander has a father-like figure. The play, the work of the locally-based Citadel Arts Group builds on emotions of torment of searching for family members and serving your country.
When a mysterious stranger turns up in the dark of the night, Frances falls madly in love and Alexander has a father-like figure.
Overall, the cast were incredibly strong, each bringing a sparkle to their characters. Andrea McKenzie as Frances shows the character’s maturing journey most clearly through two contrastingly performed letters written to her mother. In the first letter, she is little innocent Frankie, spelling out every word she impressively uses (“de-con-tam-in-ated”) and displaying her childish spirit—“I wish she was dead. No. Just unconscious. For a year.” This attitude is later turned on its head; the second letter is filled with emotion, talking about inventing her own recipes—“some actually taste like food”. McKenzie also has a stunning singing voice that tugged at our heart strings.
Audience members of a certain age could be heard humming to the war songs during scene changes; and the nostalgia was palpable on occasions. And to top it all, after the show the audience was provided with hot beverages and biscuits!