We finally saw the recognition for Bomber Command this week, with the Queen unveiling the memorial to the 82,000 airmen that died serving in it during WWII. Another “forgotten army” was the Women’s Land Army or the “Land Girls” as they were known. They were only acknowledged formally for their service in 2008.
This play is based on interviews and memories of former WLA members, and it serves not just as an entertaining and poignant piece of drama but as a testament to the hard graft and sacrifice these girls made during WWII.
The cast of four girls, Poppy, Peggy, Margie and Vera takes us through their experiences from their joining up to eventually demob. The roles are played by Becca Nielsen, Pamela Cuthill, Gail Bishop and Eleanor Swift. It relies on team work between them as the girls not only play their characters but an assortment of farmers, soldiers, airmen, farm hands, inspectors and farmers wives. The cast ably let us into their world and it really felt these were”their” stories.
There is a huge amount of humour derived from their escapades and learning of working the land (some great physical comedy from all the cast), and from the few moments they get to let their hair down with service men.It is a play of great pathos too though as we learn about the less than glamorous side and the abuse that some of the girls unfortunately suffered. Pamela Cuthill’s chilling repeating of the line “you have to run fast” was a disturbing and moving moment.
Despite it’s more serious moments it’s a very upbeat and positive play, that left me with a great appreciation for what these women did. The cast did them justice with their vivacious portrayals, and will ensure those that saw the play won’t forget the sacrifice and service this “forgotten Army” gave.