Edinburgh Fringe 2013
"The Western Front, Christmas 1914: lights appear from the German trenches, ghosts rise behind the horizon, soldiers meet between the firing lines. The events which follow are the most astounding stories of the Great War told through the eyes of one soldier, Private James Boyce: ‘We’re fighting the same enemy, just on two different sides.’ Boyce takes us on a magical, haunting journey through the events surrounding the Christmas truce. Direct from a sell-out run at the New Wimbledon Studio, London."
The information neatly compiled and simply told by Alex Gwyther is not news to us of a certain age. We know about the moving anomaly of the two sides, English and German, playing football on Christmas Day. We know how we feel about the pointlessness of it all, of the mud and the barbed wire and of friend burying friend. What makes this play different and important and touching are two things – and they relate to the young age and the innocence of the actor who has put this show together and presented it to the Fringe.
First of all to him, and to his generation, it is news: and in witnessing the actor’s performance we realise it is touching him, and shocking him as it touched his parents’ and grandparents’ generation who felt at first or second hand in just the same way. Secondly, we do not scoff at Gwyther’s innocence in thinking that he is presenting something to us which we knew only too well already. We value that he should feel the same way as he does, and that he should feel too that the message is so important it must never be forgotten.
Gwyther tells of trench life and the football game on Christmas Day and the desire for socks (my Grandmother too received a letter pleading for the women at home to get knitting!!) without histrionics and with a charmingly fresh sincerity. He deserves more than a pat on the back – he deserves , and he is getting, an audience. The House was full at the performance your Reviewer saw the show. A timely and simply presented reminder of a sacrifice which should never have been made.