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Friday, 30 March 2012

Review: "Bullets and Daffodils - The Wilfred Owen Story" at the North Euston Hotel, Fleetwood, Friday, 30th March 2012


I have long held the theory that most of our current social problems as a nation can be traced back to the First World War and our inability to understand what the survivors had been through.   This evening’s profoundly moving performance of the first musical representation of Wilfred Owen work - “Bullets and Daffodils” - really brought home the stark reality of the horrors of the so-called Great War.

Like Owen, the show’s writer, composer/singer/songwriter Dean Johnson was educated at The Birkenhead Institute.  Dean found Owen’s poems “have a great metre” and, from a songwriter’s point of view, are easy to translate into songs.  Dean was approached by Wirral Council to write a song to celebrate the Peninsular. Wilfred Owen’s name was on the list the Council had compiled and so began the journey to write and produce “Bullets and Daffodils”.

John Gorman, writer/entertainer and David Gilmour, leader and guitarist of Pink Floyd have contributed and the narrator is Christopher Timothy, the actor - best known for his role as James Herriot.  Company Manager is Janet Holmes.

Interspersed with the narration, Dean Johnson sings, Chloe Torpey takes on the mantle of Wilfred’s Mother Susan telling us her side of the story and reading some of her favourite son's letters to her, Charlotte Roberts, choreographer/dancer illustrates the deep current of emotions with her amazing “body poetry”, Charlie Griffiths sings some of the songs and finally Phil Gwilliam appears as Wilfred Owen at the end of the show.   The whole show adds up to a deeply emotional experience, telling the story of Wilfred Owen’s short life – definitely not to be missed.

After the show and a short refreshment break, the Company reassembled to demonstrate Dean’s point about Wilfred Owen’s poetry, following a reading of one of Owen’s poems by Phil Gwiliam with Dean singing the words and playing guitar.  There was then a question and answer session for the production is an on-going work and the Company really appreciate feedback.

“Bullets and Daffodils” is currently touring most of the places that Owen visited and will be at the Jermyn Street Theatre in London on Sunday 29th July.

The Wilfred Owen Story have the UK's first permanent exhibition commemorating Wilfred Owen at 24 Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral CH41 6AE, Tel.: 07539371925.  Having been brought up on the Wirral and educated in Birkenhead, I admit to being just a little biased but the area is really delightful and has much to offer – definitely worth a visit sooner rather than later.

For further details please see www.wilfredowenstory.com and find the Company on Facebook. – Bullets and Daffodils (The Wilfred Owen Story).