Observe The Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme

Observe The Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme

Written by Frank McGuinness
Directed by Jeremy Herrin
Liverpool Playhouse
8th June – 25th June 2016

Reviewed by Colin Serjent
Photograph by Johan Persson

This revival by Jeremy Herrin of the 1985 Frank McGuinness play about the bloodbath that was the Somme during the First World War has been said before on numerous occasions. Nothing new was unearthed or put forward about the futility of war.

The first act was particularly hard to sit through. Not only was the dialogue stultifying – “God only loves protestants” – was one cringeworthy phrase – but the taking off and on of trousers by all of the eight squaddies at different times was tiresome to the extreme.

Even though all but one of them would ultimately die in the trenches – the only survivor was Kenneth Pyper (the older version being played by Sean McGinley) – who gave a passionate account of his memories of what took place to him and his fallen colleagues.

However I felt no empathy with any of the characters. Maybe it was because of the false bravado they showed in serving their ‘King and Country.’

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