One Night in November
Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
I GUESS I’m not the only person who has spent much of my life trying to avoid going to Coventry.
The only time I saw George Best play was at Coventry City’s Highfield Road but that magical childhood memory was tarnished a few years later when I got thumped in the face outside the ground, by person unknown, for being an Arsenal fan and ‘a Cockney b*****d’.
I wanted to reason with him that I was from Stratford and not a Cockney wotsit but common sense prevailed and we moved hurriedly to my friend’s dad’s car.
So while occasional visits to the city have been necessary for ice skating, IKEA and the Belgrade, it’s never been my favourite place.
Like many others, I knew of the Coventry blitz but only in recent years and with the advent of this remarkable piece of theatre had I begun to understand the full horror of the raid and the passionate belief the city was sacrificed rather than reveal German codes were being cracked.
This latest version is the fourth time it has been on at the Belgrade, a testament to the power of this piece and its underpinning question of what Churchill knew.
The story of 14th November 1940 is revealed through the tale of an ordinary Coventry family with the twist that one of the daughters, Katie, has a chance encounter on Henley-in-Arden station with Michael, a translator working in Bletchley Park. He picks up on the word Arden and calls her Rosalind and they discover a shared love of Shakespeare.
While he can never reveal his place of work, this romantic twist allows the tension to build on parallel sets of a Coventry living room and a Bletchley hut.
Michael’s in his hut when the code is broken and we see his agony as he ultimately resists letting Katie know, a call that would have been treason and his own death sentence.
If that portrayal of choice is powerful the presentation of the raid is exceptional.
Yes, I’ve seen the cathedral ruins and I know bombs fell on Coventry but what this brought home was the sustained attack on the city, with bombs continuing to fall for so long, the flames going on and on, acts of herosim being matched by horrific incidents in the chaos that ensued.
Add in a closing scene where pairs of shoes simply placed on stage represented the dead and there was a real sense of a remarkable shared experience for the audience - the story of a city performed in that city. Catch it before this run closes on 19th October and you’ll understand why I and others left with tears in our eyes.
He has even chosen to set up his office well away from any kind of police building—for the time being in a county-...
Now that a scheme to develop up to 800 homes on the site has been given official government backing, the proposals are e...
STRATFORD-on-Avon District is an attractive place to live and its population has grown rapidly over recent decades. &nb...