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KATS - Don't Forget Your Gas Mask!

27th to 30th July 2011.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Putting on the Blitz

Kennet Amateur Theatrical Society: Don't Forget Your Gas Mask, at Bucklebury Memorial Hall, from Wednesday, July 27 to Saturday, July 30

From the moment we arrived at the Bucklebury Memorial Hall car park, a posh lady in 1940s costume told us to 'Get inside quickly to avoid the bombs' - setting the mood and tone for KATS' hugely enjoyable production Don't Forget Your Gas Mask.

Written by Trevor Hughes, this show in the old revue style, is an evocation of the British wartime spirit in comedy drama and song. From Chamberlain's chilling Declaration of War announcement, we were taken through many wartime vignettes often funny, sometimes moving and each scene containing appropriate songs from the era.

All this was linked with thought provoking voice over narratives. Londoners sheltering from an air raid on an underground station (Puttin' on the Blitz), female war-workers writing to their loved ones overseas (S.WA.L.K) and amusing skits on the days of austerity and rationing were just a few of them. Some of the dialogue sections worked better than others, but the whole effect was splendid.

In the second half (After wartime rations; sausage and mash and jelly and ice cream) we were treated to America's 'friendly invasion' (The Yanks are Coming) and Stalag 69 for The, Not So, Great Escape - very funny. In contrast, the drama of war was later movingly reflected in To The Few and The Final Chapter and there was a lovely nostalgic and patriotic flag waving finale of wartime favourites including Land of Hope and Glory which had the audience cheering for more.

It was good to see some of the longstanding members back on stage, who, together with the more familiar current membership, created a charming, well staged and delightful entertainment. It is difficult to single out any individual performers, as it was essentially an ensemble piece, but it was all well rehearsed and the singing sections particularly well delivered and ably accompanied by Martin Eggleton at the piano.

With some good period costumes and a hall bedecked with wartime posters, a real feel for the period was created. Congratulations to Directors Mike and Mandy Cole and Carrie and Dave Marsh and credit to the tech crew who all provided immaculate back up.