Review: The Wipers Times @ Northern Stage

Photograph by Alastair Muir.jpg

“The War Is Not Funny, Sir” “I’ve A Feeling That May Be The Point” 

Yet tonight, odd as it may seem it was.

Ian Hislop and Nick Newman have made the history of war absolutely hilarious, in their production of The Wipers Time.


The Wipers Times tells a story of the satirical newspaper created by Captain Roberts and Lieutenant Pearson in  the Somme, with comic sketches and spoofs  from the imagination of the soldiers on the front line.

It is a satirical piece of theatre that highlights the joyous occasions of war rather than focusing on the more harrowing aspects. Yet it was true to history, set in the trenches and bunkers it feels like you are fighting this war with them.

There is a true sense of camaraderie in the narrative, as each solider from Henderson to Barnes as their own personality/characteristic if you will to help the lads get through the ruddy war.

This reviewer also experiences a hint of the director’s voice coming through, particular to the references to journalists- if they ever tell the truth and remarks about The Daily Mail.  And as a journalism graduate, I find these references witty.

And there is a lot of that similar jovial/ jokey atmosphere throughout the play, with songs made up by  the soldiers and funny skits to add a bit of entertainment to the paper  (The Wipers Times). I do hope the writers and directors of the play do not take offence when I say it is reminiscence of the BBC Children’s Programme Horrible Histories. In that they are both educational and entertaining at the same time.

Of course, it is not all razzle dazzle- the performance does well to remind us that there was  a war going on. Using constant sounds of bombs and artillery throughout the piece, it does  take a serious note which I think is important for the performance so we can remember those who died in the war.

It is bitter sweet to be walking out of the theatre, to be left feeling cheerful,giddy and damn right happy about the history of war.

So as the soldiers said when they found out the war was over Le Finale la Guerre.


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