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THEATRE: 1 OCTOBER 2014

By JOHN ROZENTALS

Through These Lines, by Cheryl Ward | Directed by Mary-Anne Gifford

Turnaround Productions & No Rest for the Wicked | Australian National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour, Sydney | Until 5 October

Next year’s 100th-anniversary commemorations of the Gallipoli landing and subsequent World War I campaigns will undoubtedly and quite rightly spawn a host of events, theatrical ones among them.

One of the first off the rank is this production based on the role of Australian nurses in the Great War and following the experiences in particular of Sister Florence Whiting (Kate Skinner) as she departs on the troopship Kyarra for postings in Egypt, Lemnos, the Dardenelles and the Western Front in France.

It’s hard to watch the exuberant larrikinism of the young Australian men and women as they patriotically depart our shores and party in Egypt, knowing full well that their ‘great adventure’ will soon turn to shite — very nasty, bloody horrible shite indeed.

Skinner is joined on stage by writer Cheryl Ward, Rebecca Barbera, Gareth Rickards, Gary Clementson and Christian Charisiou, who each very convincingly play several roles in front of an evocative set designed by Tom Bannerman.

In the search for the glories and despair of battle, we tend to overlook the dedication and bravery offered so willingly behind the lines by volunteer nurses who gave so much of themselves in a war that realisitically we should never have had anything to do with.

This is a poignant piece of drama, with lashings of humour, romance, desperate sadness, heroics and frustration. Anyone interested in Australia’s World War I experience should go see this, but be quick, there are only a few days left.

Images: Bob Seary