Powerful stories are retold in Lotty’s War, written by Giuliano Crispini and set during the German occupation of Guernsey, Channel Islands, in WWII. From childish playfulness and romance to dramatic changes in pace, tension and emotion, Lotty’s War tackles themes such as loyalty and betrayal while considering the trials of growing up in a world encapsulated by the harsh realities of war. As a Guernsey local myself, I found this production particularly poignant, as Lotty experienced many things that I’ve grown up hearing about from older generations.
The play focuses on the relationship between Lotty and General Bernberg – a German officer played with great expertise by Mark Letheren – with whom she is forced to share her house. An immediately curt relationship was established between the two and I failed to see how this would change, but the actors worked together skilfully to gradually evolve the relationship. From slight alterations in conversation to sudden plot twists, the chemistry between the two created an interesting dynamic which sustained the play throughout.
Olivia Hallinan gave a stunning performance as Lotty, a headstrong whirlwind of emotion, portraying her journey from an innocent youngster to a worn-down, troubled woman with immense talent. Her tearful monologue in the only ‘outdoor’ scene of the production stood out for me as one of the most striking moments in the play, delivered which such raw emotion that I truly felt her pain.
With so many unexpected twists and turns, it was impossible to be bored for even a second in this slick production; the cast were a well-oiled machine. Aside from the superb performances, it was the technical detail that made this piece so outstanding. The use of an old radio added both music and news clips, creating moments of high tension as well as a true sense of realism. Meanwhile, the set was beautifully designed to recreate an immeasurably detailed Guernsey house, while flickering lights and dark shadows established a permanent sense of unease.
The production eventually comes full circle in the final scene, with Lotty and Ben (convincingly played by Adam Gillen) reuniting once more and speaking their secret childhood language as they had done in the opening scene. As Lotty drew the scene to a close singing “Sarnia Cherie”, the anthem of Guernsey, I knew that this would stay with me for a long time. “This is my home”, she cried. Mine too, Lotty. Mine too.
Lotty’s War ran on tour from 3rd September until 15th November. Further information regarding the play can be found at http://www.lottyswar.com
CAST AND CREW
Writer: Giuliano Crispini
Dramaturge: Clare Slater
Director: Bruce Guthrie
Designer: Victoria Spearing
Lighting Designer: Elanor Higgins
Costume & Props Designer: Suzie Tidy
Sound Designer: Mike Walker
Movement Director: Lee Proud
Fight Director: Kevin McCurdy
Vocal Coach: Terry Besson
Guernsey Patois Translator: Hazel Tomlinson
Guernsey Patois Linguis: Cynthia Lenormand
Producer: Yvonne Arnaud Theatre & Lotty’s War Ltd
Associate Producer: Jamie Chapman Dixon
PR: Sue Hyman
Casting: Annie Rowe
Company Stage Manager: Stephen Harrison
Deputy Stage Manager: Anna Sheard
Cast: Mark Letheren, Olivia Hallinan, Adam Gillen