Home Fires, a taut, beautifully told story of women during World War One is a stunning example of all that is the great and good of London’s resurgent fringe theatre. Lucy Kaufman’s splendid and witty telling of real-life stories and experiences of Sydenham’s gas workers and their families in 1914 – 1917 at the Brockley Jack Theatre is elegantly told through actual letters, diaries, poetry and song. It is insightful, poignant and amusing in equal measure.

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Star performances from Noor Lawson (Daisy), Rachael Owens (Iris), Grainne Gillis (Alice) and Helen Jeckells (Minnie) deliver exceptional displays with touching interplay between the different generations; whilst Deborah Garvey, as the pantomime villain Lady Jellicoe, delivers a spell-binding score.

© PAUL TREACY (.com) 2014. Till the Boys Come Home part 3,

In the splendid setting of director Vicki Hambley’s opening sets, the actors and action proceed along preset grooves with stories told in superb synchronicity. Everything is lovely to look at and clearly delivered; witty lines by Lawson’s Daisy – on her youthful longing for Billy Jordan – raise due laughter and set the tone for a free flowing cacophony of well-staged tales of the five women’s comradeship, love and loss.

© PAUL TREACY (.com) 2014. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Always credit the photographer.

The production hots up in the second half when the action accelerates and the younger actors, in particular, come to life in emotional exchanges. The touching tale of friendship from Gillis’ Alice Quinn and Jeckells’ Minnie Ballard is a poignant and sombre example of the impact of war on the women who were waiting for their boys to come home.

(c) Sebastian Hilditch Home Fires_Brockley Jack Theatre_01

In Kaufman’s fictional universe in front of us, as viewers, we identify with each of the five women, even Lady Jellico, and understand how things have come to this.

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Whilst the themes of war and grief loom large, the comedic touches by dysfunctional and ditzy Daisy, played by the impressive Noor Lawson, skilfully transforms what could be a tearjerker into a engaging and amusing experience that had the audience hanging on every word with humour and passion.

© PAUL TREACY (.com) 2014. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Always credit the photographer.

Like all great stories, Home Fires ends leaving you wanting to know more. We leave our quintet at Christmas, with all looking forward to a better year in 1918 – the final year of the war. Will Daisy, who has turned into an anti-war protestor, be reunited with now husband Billy; will Minnie’s underage son Fred Junior return and, will Alice Quinn’s fifth son George stay in the trenches? And what of Lady Jellico with her husband no longer the revered Admiral?

© PAUL TREACY (.com) 2014. Till the Boys Come Home part 3,

If only there was a final scene… well there was. Home Fires originally was the third part of Till The Boys Come Home which premiered at the prestigious Sydenham Arts Festival in July 2014. If only it was still running.

Kaufman’s meticulous attention to detail and stellar performances from Lawson and Owens ensure this extremely touching portrayal deserves to see the girls come home to where they deserve, the big stage.

Home Fires is on now until Saturday 2nd May at Brockley Jack Theatre. Book your tickets now here.

Images 1-4 & 6-8 courtesy of Paul Treacy and image 5 courtesy of Sebastian Hilditch.

 

Home Fires – Review
5.0Overall Score