The Producers meets Parade’s End said a friend when I tried to explain the production I had just seen. He couldn’t have been more wrong! There is much music but very little humour in The White Feather which begins and ends with a funeral. The musical which premieres at The Union Theatre tells the story in song of one woman’s fight to obtain a pardon for her brother after his execution aged sixteen and suffering from shell-shock for cowardice during World War I. Throw in a sub-plot about clandestine homosexuality and references to the suppression of women and the English class system and you will understand that this is the ambitious and serious production as you would expect from Union Theatre and writer, composer and lyricist Ross Clark. With many different settings and time periods he has asked much of set designer Tim McQuillen-Wright and lighting designer Neill Brinkworth. Both have delivered, with limited resources at this small, ground-breaking, independent theatre.
Both Abigail Matthews as the determined Georgina Briggs and Adam Pettigrew as her tragic young brother grow into their roles and their voices as the story unfolds whereas Katie Brennan as their funny and feisty friend Edith dominates confidently with her strong voice from the beginning. Christopher Blades as Mr Willows has the powerful song “True Suffolk Man” and offers real depth in this and his other roles.
Expect to be challenged as well as entertained by this production but do not expect to have your spirits raised!
- By Ross Clark
- Director: Andrew Keates
- Cast includes Abigail Matthews, Adam Pettigrew, Christopher Blades, David Flynn, Katie Brennan
- Union Theatre, London
- Until 17 October 2015
- Review by Julie Skipworth
- 21 September 2015