Tideswell Players shine during superb war play

A powerful wartime drama, performed at Tideswell Church, has been highly praised with a glowing review.

The Accrington Pals. written by Peter Whelan, was performed by Tideswell Community Players in the magnificent St John the Baptist Church this summer and told story of men who went away to fight in World War One and the close-knit village they left behind.

The Accrington Pals. written by Peter Whelan, was performed by Tideswell Community Players.

The Accrington Pals. written by Peter Whelan, was performed by Tideswell Community Players.

Critic Dave Greenan, who submitted the below review, praised the community players’ adaptation of the topical portrayal of life during The Great War as the centenary of the start of World War One is due to be commemorated in August.

As very much a ‘hatches, matches and dispatches’ churchgoer myself, I was enticed into Tideswell’s Cathedral of the Peak once again to see a play.

The previous visit being to see the splendid The Stirrings in Sheffield on Saturday Night performed by Tidza Players.

On this occasion it was to watch one of the Players’ sold-out performances of Peter Whelan’s The Accrington Pals about the tragic effect of World War One on men and women in a close community.

What can I say? Well firstly, how fortunate are we as a village to have such a talented troupe of thespians, not to mention front-of-house and behind-the-scenes crews, freely giving of their time and effort for our entertainment.

As much as I miss the days of the old buttock numbing - although wafer thin cushions were provided) - thigh pinching, circulation cutting, straight back chairs of The Congo’s Hall, the church provided an atmospheric and comfortable setting in which to enjoy the play.

Although there was the obvious juxtaposition of dealing with issues such as pre-marital sex and the frustrations arising from the lack of such frolics, and the ribald barracks’ humour of the Lancashire Tommy played out in front of the lectern and alter, it worked for me.

The play itself was absolutely superb, blending blunt northern humour with gut-wrenching emotion to deliver a thought provoking message and climaxing with a tableau vivant that left the audience visibly moved and the cast with no final bow.

The timing of the performance to coincide with the centenary of World War One gave it added potency.

Unfair as it may be to single out individuals, in a piece much dependent on the female characters, Jennifer Bower’s riveting and seamless glide from cast comic - reminiscent of Nora Batty in full flow - to full blown neurotic meltdown deserves a mention. As does Sue Melia’s depiction of the sexually repressed and big hearted May.

Take a bow one and all.

In the words of the Sergeant Major’s rallying call as The Pals went over-the-top, “The sun shone out of you’re a**eholes today lads” - and lasses.