Review – Food Wars

Food Wars – The Battle on the Home Front – Eastern Angles – Sir John Mills Theatre till 14th Sept & touring

Many of us know about food rationing during World War 2 from our history lessons at school – but there are still people who remember living through it,  and its important to capture these memories before it’s too late . There’s  not many left would know remember  rationing in World War 1 however – and with the focus on the terrible slaughter in the trenches – the Home Front is  often a somewhat neglected subject

Eastern Angles lifts the (saucepan) lid on both these subjects with two short plays written as part of Harwich Haven Sanctuary and Surrender Project, which specifically looked at the 100th anniversary of the German U boat surrender at Harwich port.

The first play – ‘Oh What a Lovely Food War’ written by Ivan Cutting, was designed to tour on the back of a trailer to open air festivals in the summer – and as such lacked some depth and cohesion when placed in the confines of the theatre.

Set around the idea of the Music Hall – three characters told us a little about the history and implementation of food rationing in WW1 and what it meant to ordinary people including the farmers and housewives of Britain, as well as giving a potted history of the various Lords in Government who took the task on with mixed outcomes. It also included a spoof on the Great British Bake Off with a rather low key scene about creating bread from potato flour. The scenes that worked best was when Sally Ann Burnett was doing her turn as music hall star Marie with Haley Evenett as the compare  – and this was when the play really came to life.

The second play ‘Saving our Bacon’, written by Jon Tavener, was much better both in structure and content. Based on memories recorded recently in Retirement Homes, this centred on one family – a mother who lost her husband in the first conflict (Sally Ann Burnett) , daughter Treacle (Hayley Evenett) and her ‘intended’ (Joseph Phelps) – who is called up to the navy soon after they are married. This looked at the struggles and ingenuity that women developed on the Home Front and the effects of war on the men that went to fight . A very thoughtful as well as humorous piece which gave a good insight into domestic life at the time.

All three actors give it their best – the pace is good – and the history sound. On the whole an entertaining and educational evening about a part of our history that yet might become more relevant than ever thought possible as a no deal Brexit looms on the horizon.

Suzanne Hawkes

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