The White Feather
The White Feather – A New British Musical.
As you can probably tell from the blog name I adore musical theatre and I am also a big fan of supporting new work – therefore when I was invited to review The White Feather at the Union Theatre I jumped at the chance.
The White Feather tells the story of Georgina and Harry Briggs, brother and sister. Harry joins the army at the start of the war filled with youthful optimism, sucked in by the propaganda that the war will be over within months but soon suffers with, what we now know to be PTSD. He consequently refuses to take his post and is punished accordingly. The musical tells of Georgina’s fight for justice for her brother and the shocking discoveries she makes along the way.
The book by Ross Clark and Andrew Keates is a powerful and dramatic one. By the time the interval came I was slightly confused as to what had happened and why but as act 2 went on I found it easier to follow with the pieces of the jigsaw slowly slotting into place. I actually quite liked this technique on occasion as the audience made their discovery alongside the main character of Georgina. There were also several jumps in time which without the aid of the programme may have been hard to follow. The show does cover a lot of issues including cowardice, PTSD, homosexuality and women’s rights to name but a few and would suggest that the mentions of women’s rights be dropped in order to focus the issue.
The music and lyrics by Ross Clark with additional songs by Matthew Strachan fitted in well to the piece. A testament to it is that I could still sing you refrains from several of the numbers despite having never heard them prior to Saturday. ‘We Buried a Good Man Today,’ was a nice song with tongue in cheek humour which raised a smile to contrast with the serious nature of the show. I particularly liked ‘Set Them In Stone,’ with its haunting refrain and poignant lyrics. I also found ‘Harry’s Letter’ a clever number with blackouts on Harry where parts of the letter had been blanked out, although the lighting cues could have done with being slightly sharper in the number to maximise its full potential.
The whole cast of White Feather were very strong and able to do the songs the justice they deserved. Abigail Matthews was perfect as Georgina Briggs. You genuinely believed her sisterly love for Harry and the tone of her voice was well suited to all of her numbers. Her character seemed to genuinely grow throughout the show and at all times I thoroughly believed her. Adam Pettigrew played Harry and he did a fine job although due to directorial choices some of the main opportunities he would have had to shine was performed facing away from the audience. Seeing Harry directly at these moments in the show would have added to the drama and emotion of the show even further. David Flynn playing Adam Davey played the ‘gentleman’ well and succeed in ensuring the audience had their reservations about Adam without really knowing why until Act 2.
The numbers were well staged with lighting helping add to the gravity of some of the numbers. The Union is the perfect setting for this show – with the stark brick walls and pillars being great for this show.
This run at the Union is The White Feathers premier and I think it has a bright future. Overall The White Feather was a moving musical by a stellar cast and tons of potential which deserves to be seen with just a few minimal tweaks in order for it to compete with some of the more renown newer British Musicals. The show runs until the 17th October at the Union Theatre.