The innocence of children and the horror of war: it’s an uncomfortable juxtaposition and one brilliantly emphasised in this year’s exceptional A2 performance. In the round, intimate and engagingly direct, the opening scenes beguiled, encouraging us to think that all would be well despite the topic. No such luck: the infantilism of the generals matched that of the children portraying them and soon we were swept into battle, squalor, ugliness and experience (as Blake might have us believe the opposite of innocence). And yet, and importantly, we kept being brought back to the classroom: the wonder of it all in contrast to the reality; the excitement and the interest rather than the anguish and the loss; the hope and the good news rather than the terror. So there was hope, after all the children were learning their history – they were alive, the offspring of survival – even if they were completing one project only to speculate on the next – WW2. What we do to ourselves – what we do, and despite it all, how our children see beyond it.
To think that this play was devised from scratch so successfully from an idea, and an understanding of theatre, shared by just seven of our students and in so relatively short a time is well-nigh miraculous. The offer of many, many congratulations barely does justice to their achievement: so to Grant, Sibyl, Ethel, Edith, Evelyn, Doris and Earl (not forgetting Mrs Parkinson, and her colleague Mr Parkinson no doubt, and Miss Rachel too) I raise my metaphorical glass (was it rum, or brandy they sought at the end?). Outstanding.