Inkberrow Celebrates the Centenary of the Armistice, St Peter’s Church, Inkberrow
THIS entertaining yet poignant night proved a memorable and fitting tribute to the 100th anniversary of the day the guns fell silent on the Western Front.
The show, devised by local vicar Bruce Rienstra and made real by a talented cast including the excellent Blockley Brass Band and starring the fantastic Holly Lovell, was a pinch yourself evening of nostalgia, reflection and song.
Indeed ‘Peg o’ My Heart’ is still running through this reviewer’s head days after the event.
It took place in a beautiful church decorated with red, white and blue bunting and hung with posters and newspapers of the era.
Divided into six parts, the show went from the euphoria of August 1914 and a singing of the national anthem, to preparations, reality, hell, gradual success and eventual victory, the show closing with another anthem, to a doomed youth, with the singing of ‘A Bird in a Guilded Cage’.
That programming affected the audience too – we could all sing along to ‘Pack up your Troubles’ and other cheery tunes, but as the mood darkened with casualties mounting the songs grew sadder and our voices more muted.
Interspersed with readings, letters and poems from the front, we heard of the teenage lad attending Sandhurst officers training college – his dad had to pay for his pistol – only to wind up dead a few months later at the front aged just 17.
We sang Lili Marlene, a song of the Second World War but written in the trenches by Hans Leip in 1915, a man who survived the war and died when he was 89.
There was humour too – the tale of the Australian Major teaching new recruits by throwing tins of corned beef at the Turks because he didn’t want to waste hand grenades.
In return, the Turks threw back tobacco.
The evening was littered with standout performances – the Blockley Brass Band were excellent, Jenny and David Powis on piano and violin did a heart wrenching Elgar double bill, while Peter Draycott performed three songs on the absurdity of war.
Over it all presided the hugely talented Holly Lovell.
Such a clear, beautiful voice, she had the entire audience eating out of the palm of her hand.
Indeed you could almost hear the collective crash of jaws dropping when the Rev Rienstra revealed Holly is still just 15 years-old, a student at St Augustine’s.
“A church used to be the centre of the community and what we are trying to do is bring this back,” said the Rev Rienstra .
“This is what a church is all about.”
All funds raised from the evening will go to protecting the historic church’s south wall.
Blockley Brass Band are desperate for new players. Contact them at http://www.blockleybrassband.org.uk/ .
Holly Lovell stars as Robin Hood in the Jigsaw Players’ Robin Hood and Babes in the Wood at the Trinity Centre, 411 Old Birmingham Road, Lickey from November 30 to December 9.