FADS’fit­ting tribute

Stirling Observer - - JOURNEY’S END -

Fin­try Am­a­teur Dra­matic So­ci­ety (FADS) en­thralled sell-out au­di­ences with their lat­est poignant per­for­mance. World War One drama “Jour­ney’s End”was de­clared a“tri­umph”by those lucky enough to at­tend the pro­duc­tion, which was four years in the prepa­ra­tion. Among the au­di­ence was Balfron res­i­dent and his­to­rian Jim Thom­son, who was in­spired to write this glowing re­view, touched as many were by the qual­ity, at­mos­phere and emo­tion of the show.

As we ap­proach the cen­te­nary of the end of World War I cul­mi­nat­ing in the ar­mistice of Novem­ber 11, 1918 it is hard to think of a more fit­ting tribute than the re­cent pro­duc­tion of R C Sher­riff’s 1928 Great War drama “Jour­ney’s End” per­formed by Fin­try Am­a­teur Dra­matic So­ci­ety.

Set in the barn of Glen­side Farm, near Fin­try, the whole tableau had the air of a film set.

The “pre-show” be­gan out­side with a va­ri­ety of sce­nar­ios of the time from the shell-shocked soldier to the suf­fragettes. Mem­bers of the au­di­ence were even en­cour­aged to en­list on pain of re­ceiv­ing a white feather from the women. Ge­or­gian chil­dren plied the crowd with news­pa­pers that turned out to be the show’s pro­grammes.

Only when the au­di­ence reen­tered the barn au­di­to­rium did they see for the first time the as­ton­ish­ing set.

“At­ten­tion to de­tail” was a phrase used over and over again. Cor­ru­gated iron, oil lamps and can­dles gave the set ab­so­lute au­then­tic­ity – the sus­pended oil lamps shak­ing at ev­ery sub­se­quent ar­tillery blast.

Di­rec­tor Jonny North opened the play with a scene that was ca­sual bor­der­ing on mun­dane ex­cept for the ex­plo­sions that pep­pered the di­a­logue.

Cap­tain Stan­hope adeptly por­trayed by Josh Frazer was de­scribed as the “best com­pany com­man­der we’ve got” in the first scene. We had al­ready dis­cov­ered that he has turned to drink to al­le­vi­ate the stresses of the war and his com­mand.

The ar­rival of Stu­art Rankin’s naive, hero-wor­ship­ping 2nd Lieu­tenant Raleigh from his time at school with Stan­hope merely added pres­sure to the cap­tain’s down­ward spi­ral.

There was a kind of Shake­spearean com­edy re­lief in the an­tics of Jack Doyle’s 2nd Lieu­tenant Trot­ter and Paul Anderson’s hap­less cook Pri­vate Ma­son as the search for “a bit of lean” in the ba­con and the yel­low taste of the soup seemed to bear equal weight against the or­ders of a fool­hardy raid on en­emy lines.

A par­tic­u­larly poignant cir­cum­stance oc­curred on the Thurs­day of the show’s run which co­in­cided with the 100th an­niver­sary to the day of the death of the di­rec­tor’s grand­fa­ther, Cap­tain A G North, who served and died in France, earn­ing a post­hu­mous Vic­to­ria Cross. This was made even more touch­ing by the fact that his swag­ger stick was used as an ac­tual prop in the play.

Josh Frazer’s out­stand­ing scene oc­curred when Stan­hope’s old school chum, whom he had dealt with in such an off­hand man­ner, was in­jured by a shell in a raid and de­spite com­fort­ing him, young Raleigh dies in his arms.

As with its be­gin­ning, the blood-red fi­nale of the play was not the end of the event.

On the hill­side out­side the barn a hun­dred crosses were il­lu­mi­nated as the au­di­ence re­turned to their cars. This was a stun­ning piece of the­atre both in­side and out­with the au­di­to­rium and the four years of prepa­ra­tion put into it by Fin­try Am­a­teur Dra­matic So­ci­ety more than paid off.

It is some­thing that will live in the mem­ory in this sig­nif­i­cant year and for a long time af­ter.

Poignant Cap­tain Stan­hope (Josh Frazer) com­forts his dy­ing school­mate

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