Grand Heroes of the war

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Heroes - Fylde Coast Players - Blackpool Grand Theatre

Top quality acting was the hallmark of Fylde Coast Players’ excursion to Blackpool’s Grand Theatre.

Gerald Sibleyras’ 2003 play, set in a long-term residential home for injured French servicemen in 1959, is quietly amusing, and occasionally farcical, but depends entirely on the subtler acting skills of the three-man cast.

Jeff Redfern, Andy Cooke and Peter Hoyle all revelled in the chance to portray a character scarred, emotionally as much as physically, by the First World War.

Redfern, ever-anxious to be the strategic leader, was wonderfully twitchy.

Cooke, shuffling and angst-ridden, was always the nearest to being completely bonkers and Hoyle, cheery but prone to angry outbursts, captured the straightforwardness of Henri.

There are traces of Waiting for Godot and Last of the Summer Wine as a rose-tinted past and a futile future combine within each man.

Nothing happens and it does so for a long time within the walls of the sanatorium, with the humour coming from their imaginary military operation to escape their confinement.

A couple of moving moments are particularly well portrayed, with a glance, or a tiny gesture or body posture, and we could have done with more of these in Sibleyras’ writing.

But an appreciative audience, somewhat too scattered in the Grand’s large auditorium, showed by their warm applause their recognition of an accomplished cast and Heather Cartmell’s unfussy direction.

Julian Wilde