Reviewed by Paula Citron
A strong second act saves Soulpepper’s production of the 1963 anti-war musical satire Oh What a Lovely War. The show intersperses scenes with World War 1 songs. The multi-talented actors sing, and play a host of musical instruments.
The first act details the events leading up to World War 1 and trench warfare. The action limps along in self-indulgent slow motion, and what satire there is seems tedious.
The second act concentrates on Field Marshall Douglas Haig’s tunnel vision that victory lies only by breaking through the German lines. His strategy squandered the lives of a generation of young men. Director Albert Schultz and his company come into their own in this act.
The overwhelming loss of life plays out between moving scenes in the trenches set against Haig’s self-righteous monologues. The finale where a list of the Canadian dead rolls across the actors’ bodies is particularly poignant.
Oh What a Lovely War continues at the Young Centre until Apr. 11.
Oh What A Lovely War
Written by Joan Littlewood, Theatre Workshop & Charles Chilton (research by Gerry Raffles)
Directed by Albert Schulz
Starring Michael Hanrahan, Oliver Dennis, George Masswohl, Mike Ross and Alison Jutzi
At the Young Centre until Apr. 10