OH WHAT A LOVELY WAR! Classic musical satire comes to Minehead

‘Oh What a Lovely War’

The 100th anniversary of the start of the First World war is approaching. Exactly the right time for a show that “shoves a bayonet up the jacksie of the British high command, the politicians, the war profiteers and a jingoistic British public.”

Those are the words of the Daily Telegraph about Oh What A Lovely War, the legendary 1963 satire that’s coming to the Regal Theatre, Minehead on July 17th, 18th and 19th.

Michael Gove wouldn’t approve

Michael Gove wouldn’t approve. The Tory education secretary lumps Oh What A Lovely War in with Blackadder in his list of fictions which portray the war – in his view wrongly – as a “misbegotten shambles .“ There’s irony in the fact that the show is based partly on the work of another right-wing Tory, Alan Clark, who first used the phrase “lions led by donkeys” to describe the way British soldiers were sent to the slaughter by their generals.

Oh What A Lovely War not only changed attitudes to the conflict. It was also one of the shows that remade British theatre. The Guardian’s veteran critic, Michael Billington, saw the original production by Joan Littlewood’s company at Stratford in East London. He said it had a devastating impact: “Its originality lay in the fact that it viewed the first world war from the perspective of the common soldier, and that it counterpointed songs from the period with grim battle statistics that appeared in a running newsreel tape above the stage. To suggest, as Michael Gove did, that there is something unpatriotic about Oh What a Lovely War because it adopts a critical stance is to offer an insultingly narrow definition of love of country.”


The Regal production is by the popular and experienced local theatre group, the Barnstormers. Their publicist, Elaine Ross said: “Familiar faces on the Regal stage will present a show which commemorates the centenary of World War One but does not ignore the huge loss of life. For those whose family memories include many songs sung by grandparents parents or great grandparents, it will be a chance to revisit memories and sing along.”

Oh What A Lovely War is at the Regal Theatre, Minehead, on July 17th,18th and 19th at 7.30 p.m. Tickets from the Regal Box Office (01643 706430) 10am – 3pm Monday – Friday, 10am – 1pm Saturday. Book on-line at www.regaltheatre.co.uk.


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