By Christina Rodriguez
“The Accrington Pals” by Peter Whelan brilliantly focuses on the women during World War I and their adversities.
Whelan’s title refers to the 700 soldiers that marched voluntarily to the WWI in the summer of 1914 in Accrington, Lancashire, England.
The play was directed by Kelley Hogan. The women of Accrington showcase their perspectives while their husbands, boyfriends or sweethearts embark to war.
The play considers the women in of “Accrington Pals” as soldiers of their own while they battled their own war; working to provide for their loved ones. The main roles are played by the women and the true terror of warfare gradually becomes clear to them.
The actors do a great job portraying the emotions the characters endured during this war. Through the dim lighting of the room, the darkness of the staged brick buildings creates the terrifying experiences of WWI.
The men face terror in the Battle of the Somme and the women solidarity in their lonely town. “The Accrington Pals” focus on three families, stories we can all relate to. The star role is May, a tough market-stall owner, who never expresses her love for her cousin Tom.
Eva and Ralph are a young couple in lust, Eva moves in with May while the Pals go to war. Eva and Ralph’s relationship is a taboo, in the 1900s, sex before marriage was unheard of.
Annie is the wife of another pal, Arthur and Reggie is their son with special needs. Annie begins to lose patience and her mind after her husband goes to war, leaving her alone to raise their problemed son.
The other women overcome their fierce sense of deprivation to band together, learn new skills and eventually march militantly on to the town hall.
At the town hall they discover the truth about the war and when their men will return. From the stage to the costumes, the actors took the audience back in time as the women of Accrington fought through all the propaganda lies.
The lighting was perfect and each scene was touching. The actors spoke loudly and clear, every word expressed the agony they were living during WWI.
The actor’s accents made you feel as though it was 1916 in England, with the accents they all religiously practiced for this film. It might take a while for audiences to get use to the accents.
However, Hogan said she thought it was important for her students to learn how to act with accents which is something they will have to do as professionals.
Accrington Pals was based on a real-life event. It is a historic play but also meaningful, honoring the bravery of women who overcame much adversity during WWI. The play is well balanced; you can expect a time of laughter and tears.
The actors portrayed their characters well specifically Limon, she did an excellent job taking on such a strong role. Through her acting the entire play unfolded. The actors made the audience laugh and sing along.
This compassionate play portrays the devastating effects of war on a typical Lancashire mill town and the suffering of everyday people.
“The Accrington Pals” is a definite must see. Evening showtimes are April 20, 21, and 22 at 8 p.m. Matinées are April 22 and 23 at 2 p.m.
The location of the play is at East Los Angeles College the Black Box Theater.
Tickets are sold at the door for $12, online at www.elac.edu under events for $10 and $8 with an ASU discount available in P2-101A. For more information call (323) 415-5333.