Based on the true story behind the 1943 escape from the infamous Stalag Luft III prisoner of war camp, Tom, Dick and Harry (the names of the three tunnels) opened at New Vic Theatre for an extended run before it premiers in London’s West End, Alexandra Palace Theatre.
Expertly directed by Theresa Heskins (who also co-wrote the play with Andrew Pollard and Michael Hugo both of which also star in the production) the script was inspired by top secret information that was classified in the war archives until 1972.
The production starts in darkness with the unmistakable noise of a World War 2 aircraft which immediately sets the tone. The review title intentionally pun-like as it’s written and performed in such a way that you are totally immersed in the era and you leave with a new found respect and appreciation that whilst this is on the stage, these people actually lived throughout these unprecedented and terrible times.
It has humorous moments, touching moments and on-the-edge of your seat moments and celebrates the ingenuity, tenacity and spirit of the escapees who find more and more elaborative ways to hide their tunnelling activity and using all available resources around them to achieve their goal of escape, along with all the crescendo leading up to the pivotal moment. The cast truly deserved the standing ovation they got tonight. And, in my humble opinion, they individually and collectively captured the essence of their characters and is a fitting homage to those brave individuals who took part in the escape.
Some of the cast took on multiple roles and it was completely unnoticeable that this was the case, such was the fluidity of the production and the performance of the actors themselves, both individually and collectively working together.
Expertly moving the scenery, the cast work the stage really well, all the available space is utilised to its fullest extent and even stretching out into other areas of the auditorium. The video effects not only add to the production’s ambiance, but enhance the experience with information to supplement the action.
It was a privilege to be one of the first set of people to see this production.
I must say separately that the programme was a completely fascinating read, the process the writers and actors went to learn the the story its based on, from visiting the national archives to working with props based on the time. There is also a brilliant piece on an archaeological dig around the area its set. It is definitely recommended picking up a copy.
Absolutely a must-watch, the show runs until 9th July and tickets can be purchased here.