Preview: Wirral allotment to host tale of wartime entertainment

Jill Meyers as Lena and Esther-Grace Button as Bessie. Picture by Rachel Root.

John Holt Roberts as Gervais and Jill Meyers as Lena. Picture by Rachel Root.

First published in News
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Wirral Globe: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

A TALE about the challenges faced by a group of entertainers during the First World War will be staged at a Wirral allotment next month.

Troupers will be shown at Gilroy Allotments in West Kirby on Sunday, May 4 at 1pm.

Set against the backdrop of the First World War, it is 1914 and British entertainment is down on its uppers.

A loss of appetite for frivolous pleasures and a dearth of young men finds actor-manager Lena Ashwell with a theatre but no audience.

A passionate advocate of 'art for all' and determined to do her bit, she assembles a motley bunch of 'turns' and books a tour with a difference.

Her Troupers won’t tread the boards of Old Blighty, but the muddy, bloody fields of France.

Troupers is an exciting new project for Mikron; firstly, it marks the centenary of the First World War, by telling the little-known story of female impresario, Lena Ashwell.

Marianne McNamara, Mikron's artistic director said: "by telling Lena Ashwell’s story we are telling the story of the place that the Arts had, and still have, in a struggling society.

"I'm also aware that there will be a lot of companies marking this important centenary, we are really interested in having a central character who is female, at a point in history which is often told from a male perspective, and a story about those who entertain and enrich the lives of our service men and women and how that started out."

The show's producer Pete Toon added: "Given that Lena Ashwell's troupers gave up the Music Hall and Theatre in favour of the muddy field, it feels natural to be performing this show outdoors on an allotment.

"Whilst we would never claim to be doing anything as remarkable as taking theatre to the frontlines, we are proud to take it to unusual places that other companies don't."

There is no need to buy a ticket in advance of the West Kirby production as a collection will be taken after the show. More details are from: 07922 523632.

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