DOMINIC MAFHAM

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Review: Journey’s End   

By Liz Coggins
Published on Friday 20 May 2011


At Leeds Grand Theatre


Journey’s End is more than just a powerful drama, it’s a highly emotive piece of living history that left its first-night audience almost silent as they left the theatre.

RC Sherriff’s play, set in the trenches in the days before the last great German Offensive of the First World War, tells the story of a group of officers preparing for a daring raid across No Man’s Land to gather intelligence. When 18-year-old Lieutenant Raleigh arrives, everyone welcomes him except Captain Stanhope, who reveals later that he was at school with him. From the outset , director David Grindley achieves a claustrophobic atmosphere, the set dimly lit by a couple of lamps and candles, which coupled with his use of static poses, make this a brilliant production with one of the finest casts the Grand has seen for some time.

As the unflappable ex-schoolmaster Osborne, Dominic Mafham is outstanding. Constantly calm and re-assuring we only see his fear when his hands shake as he tries to light a match for his final smoke. In complete contrast, James Norton as Stanhope, the highly volatile 21-year-old, whisky swilling company commander is dramatically superb. Whilst Graham Butler as Raleigh gives a beautifully naïve performance seeing war as a boy’s own adventure.

There’s no curtain call in Journeys End. There’s a deafening barrage of sound and the cast stand frozen in front of a war memorial bearing the names of the fallen in what can only be described as an intensively moving finale.