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Watermill Young Company - Beetroots and Bullet Lips

17th to 20th November 2010.

This review is from the Newbury Weekly News.

A tale of two generations

Watermill Young Company: Bullets and Beetroot Lips, at The Watermill, from Wednesday, November 17 to Saturday, November 20

With ease and celerity, the Watermill Young Company's actors alternated between the two scenarios required for director/writer Ade Morris' play.

Each of them took on two roles, firstly as wartime Land Army girls and their hosts at Mason's Farm, somewhere near Newbury, and secondly as their alter egos, two generations later, protesting against the building of Newbury's bypass.

"If we stop loving people, what hope is there?" set the theme for a play first written when feelings were running high over the controversial new road.

With the eerie wail of an air raid siren, the play begins with a group of city girls, The Bethnal Green Desperation Club, deciding to join the Women's Land Army. To the tune of Run Rabbit Run, the scene changes to Mason's Farm where the new recruits are instructed in their duties by the farmer and Mr Mouser (Alastair Bull).

It is not until the girls witness a dogfight between two planes, later discovering Anton (Jak Ford Lane), a wounded Nazi pilot, that the reality of war strikes sharply home. The girls' plan to save him seems doomed as Anton faces Mr Mason (Ollie Bridges), whose son has been killed on active service, pointing a gun at him.

As the bereaved mother Charlotte Metcalfe made the scene where she sits gazing at her son's photo extremely moving.

Slickly interspersed with the 1940s action, the actors turned into protesters, led by the impassioned Sall (Poppy Jermaine). Desperate for more media attention, they captured a hostage.

With Ade Morris' gift for inserting humour into any situation, the man turns out to be scared of heights. When everything is at stalemate, Sall prepares to throw herself out of the tree camp to get the necessary publicity.

Throughout the play, Charlotte (Charlotte Allen) says she wishes to see things through her grandmother's eyes and the final twist to the tale is both clever and unexpected.

Good performances, especially from the group of girls, which also included Talia Pye and Natasha Fox, made for fast-moving action with music from MD Sophie Cook and Lucy Kane adding atmosphere to both eras. It was dramatic, often very funny mixed with a terrible poignancy The Watermill can be proud of its young actors.