Photo Gallery and Review: To End All Wars, Theatre Royal Norwich

Will Roxby, centre, plays Robert Millington Knowles in 'To End All Wars' at Norwich Theatre Royal. Photo: Bill Smith Will Roxby, centre, plays Robert Millington Knowles in 'To End All Wars' at Norwich Theatre Royal. Photo: Bill Smith

Christopher Smith
Monday, August 4, 2014
6:02 PM

For the centenary of the start of the First World War, the Theatre Royal mounted To End All Wars to bring home to young people of different ages the human significance of that terrible catastrophe.

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Fiona Roberts and Claire Gulliver co-ordinated the project which, under the creative lead of Xenia Horne, brought together four schools – Arden Grove Infant and Nursery (Norwich); Aldborough Primary; North Denes Junior (Great Yarmouth); and Hellesdon High.

With John Hurt as an unobtrusive yet authoritative narrator and compere, the groups of pupils used speech, song, stage movement and expressive dance in a series of imaginative and touching evocations of what the war meant to local families.

In brief scenes Olive Crosswell heeded Kitchener’s call and joined the Land Army, and Jessica Hayward from Loddon served as a nurse with Hilda Zigomala of Rougham Hall representing the older generation left fretting for loved ones at the Front.

Sidney Smith and brother Bert from Upwell died in Flanders, while intrepid Robert Knowles survived two years in the trenches and another two in the Flying Corps. Robert Artis, from Gorleston, showed grit and determination as a conscientious objector.

Perspective was added with video-recordings of readings of poems and prose passages by distinguished personalities, such as General Lord Dannatt, the Bishop of Norwich, Simon Callow and Lady Shirley Williams, whose mother’s Testament of Youth remains a key text.

It all added up to a fine evening – entertaining, but thoughtful too. The warm applause was well deserved.

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