Remember Edith Carvell, Review

Remember Edith Carvel

★★★

Palmerston Place Church (Venue 254)| Aug 23-­27 | 15:15, 19:15| £7.50-£11.00

This historical production tells the story of Edith Carvell, a nurse who was executed by the Germans for helping 200 Allied soldiers escape to safety from occupied Brussels during the First World War.

Rebecca Rogers delivers an excellent performance as Carvell. Portraying Carvell as the strong resolute Matron trying to ease soldiers suffering with warmth and kindness difficult times, whilst providing an emotional insight to Carvell’s own personal struggles of being away from home. The final moments of Carvells life are depicted by Rogers with moving and heartfelt emotion conveying the seriousness of the circumstances and her resolution in the face of death.

David Robinson is totally convincing in his role as Foreign Sectary Edward Grey. With the show opening to the news received by The Foreign Office that Carvell’s execution has been carried out, Robinson conveys the gravitas and urgency of the situation as he sets in motion contacting the Prime Minister and Carvell’s family to inform them of the news.

Throughout the show scenes are linked with musical extracts from popular World War One songs by rotating cast members performing a chorus role. This detracts from performance as it has no bearing on the overall plot and the joviality of some songs feels at odds with the gravity of the overall production.

The interval requiring audience members to vacate the performance area also undermined the gravitas and flow of the performance. Whilst billed as a set change, on return there was no notable differences to the stage, making it feel that the performance had been uprooted for no apparent reason.

Carvell’s Anglican beliefs are a strong theme during the performance emphasised with hymns and bible verses providing the rationale for some of her actions and decisions. The production focuses in particular on her actions where she cares for and assists soldier Harry Beaumont to safety, however, the final discussion between the two feels contrived due to the timing, location and subject matter discussed. Taking place in a darkened street it portrays too many confidential details about the overall operation that would greatly endanger the lives of both if overheard. Conveying the impression that more caution would have actually been exercised between both members especially given the distance between the characters at the time of delivery.

Nevertheless this is a skillful performance with moments of brilliance. Considerately depicting both Edith Carvell’s trial and subsequent execution in a moving and heartfelt manner.