Journey's End

by A Powerful Drama By R C Sherriff

Journey's End had 4 performances about 10 years ago (between the 21st of November 2007 and the 24th of November 2007)

This is the most popular anti-war play to appear after World War I. It was first produced professionally by Maurice Browne and starred a young Lawrence Olivier as Captain Stanhope. It still works well as a stirring piece of theatre whenever it is revived by professional or amateur companies. The play enjoyed a recent popular revival, and subsequent tour, at the Comedy Theatre starring David Haig, Paul Bradley and Geoffrey Streatfield.

The tension between the then acceptable public school ethos and the grinding horror of trench warfare at its worst produces one of the strongest plays ever written. The drama of the stifling social conventions of the day, the personal relationships between the men and the powerful portrayal of the officers’ shattered nerves is played out against the larger tragedy raging around them. The play succeeds by convincing portrayals of very real characters and by the evocation of the atmosphere of the trench warfare and of the men’s repressed emotions of fear, anger, guilt and courage in the face of impending doom.

Second Lieutenant Raleigh – the new officer assigned to ‘C’ Company – is welcomed by everyone except Captain Stanhope, who later reveals that he knew Raleigh at school and is engaged to his sister. Stanhope fears that Raleigh will communicate with his sister and she will learn that “if I went up those steps without being doped with whisky I’d go mad with fright”.

The play is not without humour, mainly coming from the earthiness of those in the lower ranks and their concern with home and food.

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LIEUTENANT OSBORNE - David Webb

A likeable, kindly, warm, avuncular figure; a former school master and ‘C’ Company’s second in command. The Company’s father figure, he is Stanhope’s best friend and becomes close to Raleigh. Decent and caring, he realises the full horror of what is before them and reflects on the futility of war with his readings from Alice in Wonderland.

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CAPTAIN STANHOPE - Nick Lund

Posted to the front via public school he is much respected by his men but after three years without a rest his nerves are shot to pieces. By now cynical and afraid he can only stand the daily horrors of trench warfare by consuming immense quantities of whisky. There is immediate tension between him and Raleigh because of their past history and because he becomes increasingly more drunk and exhausted. He relies on the supportive Osborne to cover up for him. Becoming increasingly hysterical he is numbed by Osborne’s death followed shortly after by that of Raleigh

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2nd LIEUTENANT RALEIGH - Jamie Frier

Young ex-public schoolboy who idolises Stanhope. Naïve and full of hope and excitement and more than ready to “do his bit”. He is bewildered by his rejection by Stanhope and they only become close, like the old friends they used to be, on his death bed. The shells shriek, the dugout begins to collapse under the bombardment, rifle fire spatters feverishly and the red dawn glows as the play ends

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PRIVATE MASON - Keith Bollands

The Company’s orderly. He provides much of the humour of the play by his droll comments and with his total preoccupation with food (or lack of it). A mature soldier who didn’t go to public school. Subservient – a regional accent required.

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2nd LIEUTENANT TROTTER - Mark Humble

Large, homely and unimaginative salt of the earth character. Very concerned with his creature comforts and food and drink. Has humorous reflections on the minutiae of daily life. Brightens up the trench and sings some evocative songs.

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2nd LIEUTENANT HIBBERT - Chris Knights

Young, small and vulnerable, his nerves are shattered and he desperately wants to escape on sick leave. Stanhope first reasons with him then threatens him with a gun and finally consoles him by admitting to similar fears. Hibbert continues to malinger and plead but Stanhope gets him to face the attack again in spite of his shell shock.

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COLONEL - Wally Walters

A commanding figure in overall control of events. Impatient and pushed by the demands of headquarters. Distanced from the fighting force of young men he is more anxious to please the higher chain of command.

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SERGEANT MAJOR - Adam Roberts

A burly, stolid, dependable army type. Could be doubled with Captain Hardy

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CAPTAIN HARDY - Graham Collier

Cheerful, hail fellow well met type who appears to enjoy army life. Could be doubled with Sergeant Major

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GERMAN SOLDIER - Jakub Bednar

Small, young, vulnerable and frightened. Speaks some German. Small role.

Original

PRIVATE SOLDIER - Tom Hudson

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LIEUTENANT BROUGHTON - Ian Thomas

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Director - Judith Dolley

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Stage Manager - Liz Thomas

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Lighting - Bill Payne

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Special Effects - Jonathan Miller

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Sound - Ian Santry

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Set Design and Construction - John Godliman

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Stage Manager (assistant) - Clare Pinnock

Original

Continuity - Frankie Godliman

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Wardrobe - Jill Payne

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Sound design - Mark Humble

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Front of House Manager - Jill Payne

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Box Office Manager - Emma Thompson

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Photography - Alan Bostock (www.photoeyes.biz)