It is amazing how even the best part of seventy-five years on, the thought of the Nazi-occupied Channel Islands in 1943 can bring a chill.  German-occupied Guernsey was the setting for this wonderful play written by Moira Buffini in 1997 and for which she drew her inspiration from actual accounts of life on the island at that time. She focuses on the sensitive relationships between the local women and the occupying German officers.  It was a time of pure terror, hardship and food shortages and it is a good feeling to think that the desperate – yet feisty –  women in this play were typical of those living what must have been totally terrifying ordeal with a future (if they had one) full of uncertainty.

It was a capacity audience that waited in anticipation of the house lights going down in front of an amazing raised set of a somewhat austere Guernsey farmhouse – which, we were to learn afterwards from the producer, had all manner of significance and symbolism.  Perhaps – as we were also to hear – not so good for those sitting in the front rows of the stalls, though!

This well cast and superbly acted play was full of drama, suspense with some brilliantly timed humour thrown into the mix.  The two hours went amazingly quickly and it was unsurprising that the bar was packed with Friends waiting eagerly to welcome this wonderful cast and members of the company.

The Cast. (clockwise from top left): Paul McGann, Sarah Schoenbeck,
Venice van Someren, Belinda Lang, Jules Melvin, Robin Morrisey

For the majority, it was their first visit to the Eastbourne stage – and for Paul McGann the first time he had taken a play on tour.  It was a joy to welcome them all and we are grateful for their willingness to chat, share their thoughts and allow more than the usual number of selfies!  The party went on for some time – as the pictures below bear witness.

 

 

So, who was was Gabriel?  An RAF pilot, an SS interrogator, a local boy with amnesia or perhaps a saviour sent from heaven?  No spoilers here, but perhaps we will never know!

We have been very lucky this year with some (if not most) of the productions on offer at the DPT and we must all give Chris Jordan a huge vote of thanks for bringing yet another top quality play for us to enjoy.  More of the same, please, Chris!