Review: Dread Zeppelin, by Jo Carrick and Cast, Red Rose Chain, Avenue Theatre, Ipswich, October 12
- Credit: David Newborn
To mark the centenary of the end of the First World War, Red Rose Chain Youth Theatre have produced a brilliant new show. We are transported back into the past through fact, music, a bit of fiction and the universal of emotion of love.
Set in Gypswick Hall, itself once a war time hospital, the lives of the people of Ipswich are plunged into fear and panic by a war that is suddenly on their very doorsteps when a Zeppelin crashes.
The research for the show, facilitated by Heritage adviser Mandy Rawlings, is cast led. From this Jo Carrick has created a show of warmth, compassion, humour and real integrity. The script doesn’t flinch from realities of war time, social constraints, class or the demonisation of the enemy. The language of hate towards the Germans is apparent throughout, forcing the cast and the audience to address this in a way that so often airbrushed in narratives as it is too ugly. This show bravely reflects these many realities and the propaganda posters hanging mid air all around serve as early reminder of how the media is used by Governments to manipulate the public.
A small performance space has all the large cast constantly present. These hugely talented, and committed young people deliver defined characterisations as we weave in and out of the many small but big stories of the real people of Ipswich. It creates a tense atmosphere and the moments of light and humour skilfully contrast with a bit of a bite here and there. The sound design of period music is carefully done and creates real moments of pathos rather than nostalgia. The first half ends with the cast waltzing and singing “If You Were The Only Boy/Girl In the World “ A mirror ball creates a dreamy, romantic, hopeful moment. And watching this young cast it, is so beautiful and deeply poignant, I cried.