“Over by Christmas”, performed by Drama students from the Grammar School and the High School, was an astonishingly powerful event which was received, until the very end, in stunned silence by the audience as aspects of war exploded in the Drama Studio.
Presented on a stage set which resembled “The Menin Road” by Paul Nash, the devised performances and extracts from plays ranging from the 5th century BC to the present day examined, with excoriating detail and forensic precision, all aspects of war, from the Great War to Afghanistan and Iraq and from children’s perspectives to the use of social media and computer-generated gaming in promoting the concept of war as a glorious and heroic event.
The evening was a tour de force. The consummate and uniformly excellent acting; the startling and emotionally riveting choreography; the atmospheric and superbly controlled lighting; the apposite and sometimes unexpectedly moving music; the stunning insightfulness and incision of the thoughts which inspired the devised performances; and, above all, the threads which held them together, combined to present a devastating critique of what war really means while at the same time paying homage to those who paid the ultimate price with body or mind in the service of their country or ideals.
The sustained applause at the end was like that at the conclusion of a brilliantly-rendered symphony: a release of pent-up emotion and appreciation for what will live long in the memory of those who experienced it and those who took part.