Cast and Crew
Captain Stanhope David Kirkbride Lieutenant Osborne David Edwards 2nd Lieutenant Hibbert Thomas Reynolds 2nd Lieutenant Raleigh Josh Mason Private Mason Daniel Rees 2nd Lieutenant Trotter Daniel Hill Colonel Peter Gordon Sgt. Major Hardy John Kirkbride German Soldier Tom Wells
Directors Robert Icke Associate Directors Daniel Hill
Set Design Matthew Case
Lighting Designer Matthew Case Producer Daniel Hill Technical Director Matthew Case Lighting Designer Matthew Case Sound Designer Mark Hand Technician Simon Cole
British Theatre Guide
16th September 2007
It is nearly ninety years since the events portrayed in Journey’s End. Since then society and attitudes – indeed, life in general – have changed immensely, and yet the play still has enormous power for, language and the rest apart, its picture of men under the stress of unremitting warfare is as vivid and moving as it was when it was first written in 1925.
There’s little that a reviewer needs to say about the play itself as it’s so well known, particularly after David Grindley’s production of 2004, which went on to tour extensively to great acclaim and then to be revived in the West End, finally ending in 2006, which leaves us free to concentrate on the actual production and the performances.
Arden has built up a track record of high quality productions at the Arc, the most recent being Richard III in July of this year, so expectations were high. They did not disappoint.
From the moment the house opens, we are drawn into the world of the play as Hardy prowls the dimly lit dugout waiting to be relieved by C Company. It says a lot for John Kirkbride’s performance and the subtlety of Mark Hand’s soundscape that, after this period of pre-show (in)action, the audience fell quiet at just the right moment.
All of Arden’s previous productions have been of Shakespeare’s plays and they have been characterised by a close study and understanding of the text, and director Robert Icke has brought the same rigorous approach to Journey’s End. Couple that with the fact that all of the actors are the same age as the characters they play and you have almost painfully truthful performances. David Kirkbride’s Stanhope, for example, is so obviously fighting to retain control of himself and his fears that, when he tells Hibbert that he shares his terror, we know it isn’t something he says just to encourage or shame him but the absolute truth. The effort to keep the stiff upper lip is obvious throughout and it is clear that the whisky he consumes in such large quantities is barely enough to keep his demons at bay and makes his rage at the arrival of Raleigh and his demand to censor his letter completely believable.
Josh Mason looks barely 14 as the 18 year old Raleigh and projects a mixture of naïveté and keenness, shot through with hero worship for Stanhope, which is so touching that, at his almost accidental death, there was scarcely a dry eye in the house.
There is not a weak link in the production. Daniel Hill avoids the temptation to make Trotter something of a comic character, retaining his sense of humour but letting us see his serious side throughout. Tom Reynolds avoids caricaturing Hibbert and gives us someone whose pain is genuine, although caused by fear, and not merely an excuse to get sent home. David Edwards’ Osborne is younger than the character is normally played, in his thirties rather than forties, but he still has that air of maturity and stability which give him the nickname “Uncle”.
This is, we are told, Arden’s last production. The management of the Arc really should do all in its power to persuade one of its greatest assets – for the Arts Centre is the company’s base – to keep going.
The Darlington and Stockton Times
24th October 2004
RC SHERRIFF’S First World War drama, presented by local youth group, Arden Theatre Company, gave a dark insight into the psychological challenges of war in the trenches.
Matthew Case and Robert Icke’s set was superb – surrounded by sandbags and flanked to the rear by an apparently hastily constructed wooden structure, with a single ladder centre stage giving access to the brutal reality above while the officers fight with their own demons below.
Makeshift chairs and tables, kit bags and flickering candles gave a poignant sense of the temporary, and the mostly beige tones symbolised the gloomy atmosphere of dirt, death and despondency. While the soldiers wait for orders, the ominous rumble of aircraft, bombing and gunfire relentlessly persists in the background. David Kirkbride gave a powerful performance as Captain Stanhope, the officer who inspires his men, yet needs whisky to still his own nerves and who is finally unnerved by the arrival in the trench of 2nd Lieutenant Raleigh, with whom he was “terrific pals” in his civilian days.
Josh Mason’s portrayal of the innocent public schoolboy was a comic delight… David Edwards gave a convincing performance as Lieutenant Osborne, or “Uncle” as the men knew him, particularly in the scene where he must leave the trench to face almost certain death. Despite competent acting across-theboard, it was the technical aspects of this production which attained excellence. Set, sound, lighting and costumes were thoughtfully selected and produced to professional standard. The final powerful disintegration of the set to deafening crashes, alternating black-out and bright light, was disturbingly symbolic of the human devastation of war.
We attended your opening night of Journey’s End last night and as you request feed-back I feel that I must congratulate the whole company on its performance. The setting and acting were superb and the ending was stunning in its finality.
Journey’s End, the final production at Arc from the Arden Theatre Company will finish this Saturday and I would like to wish all the cast the very best for the future. The partnership between Arc and Arden has produced some of the finest on stage entertainment in our area, great to see young people enjoying theatre both on stage and in the auidnece with this powerful piece produced as usual to such a professional standard.