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Somewhere in England, Eastern Angles Touring Production


On 3rd September 1939, at 11.15am Neville Chamberlain announced that “this country was at war with Germany,” and now fast­forward to 1942 when the US Eighth air force came to Britain, including East Anglia. Somewhere in England tells a tale of immoral injustice, pain, fear and ultimately love. Written and crafted by Polly Wiseman, this beautiful script enunciates the reality of humans and the inevitable entanglement of emotions in war as well as life. Joe is a black GI who is suffocated by the US Army’s segregative approach. He is a trained engineer yet because of his skin colour, works on base rather than fight in a war against fascism, for the country that punishes him for his identity, yet he still would choose to fight for them. Ginny, a British local teen takes Joe on as though he is her brother, and when he falls in love with Viv, a cockney land girl, everything is perfect! Until, that is, the issue of segregation, racial discrimination and sheer innocence to protect a loved one plays it’s hand at Joe’s fate.

I was both fascinated and disgusted to find that in the writers note in the programme, Polly explained “I knew my story would be a romance between a black GI and a white British woman. But shockingly, there were almost no first­hand accounts available ­ from the men themselves, or the women who loved them. It began to seem as if Britain would rather forget them ­ which made me want to tell their stories even more.” This almost sums up the entire play, but I also need to add another question that she raises “Are Britain and America guilty of ‘racism­by­omission’? If we haven’t bothered to document non­white soldiers, perhaps we still feel that the spoils of victory...are due only to white men?” I felt shocked, disgusted and angered the majority of my time watching this play, and my mind is still spinning with a thousand questions I wish I could demand answers for. I had never considered these questions before, but they were staring me straight in the face, and yet by reading the writer's note I found comfort in the fact that this was why Polly wrote it ­ to make us think aview nd question the documented evidence of our past, and consider what, who and which heros might be missing.

The set was simple and yet drew you in almost immediately, and staging it in the traverse was a clever choice. A topic of racism, segregation and love demands a lot of attention, focus, emotion and belief from the audience; yet this came with ease due to the staging, writing, comedic elements and acting. Some of the actors had shaky starts, and appeared nervous, however that didn’t take long to change. The added element of swing­dancing was genius, and a great addition to the show. It made me want to get up and join in! However I found that during the dancing, Georgia Brown; who was playing Viv, lacked a spark and almost appeared to have come out of character. This could have been a director's or character choice, and if so I felt it should have been made clearer, but also could have been personal hesitation for the dancing or big lift at the end, which again should have been noted and made a character choice. However, I do not wish to discredit her, far from it. In fact, Georgia was phenomenal, and her ability to switch between a land girl from London and Lady Stella Reading so well was admirable! Nathanael Campbell, Joe, is certainly one to watch, and has a singing voice as smooth and as rich as chocolate with an angelic, soulful and haunting quality. I really could have listened to him sing the whole evening, but it certainly does not detract from his acting skills, and in the moments where he got it right, was just beautiful to watch. Grace Osborn was a little firecracker as Ginny, and Joshua Hayes made a despicable Chester and Walter White.

This production is a must­see, and well worth tracking down at one of the 20 venues left in their enormous tour! They are visiting Ipswich, Maldon, Thorpe Abbotts, Haverhill, Hatfield, Woolpit, Brandeston, Luton, Kirton, Aylsham, Hartest, Walsham­ Le­Willows, Westleton, Sheringham, Chelmsford, Debach, Halesworth, Southwold, Hitcham and ends at Woodbridge. So if you live near any of these places, book your tickets now

If you are still aren’t 100% sold on the idea, check out their promotional film here.

Written by Nikica Marcot.

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