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THE STAGE REVIEWS THE MACHINE GUNNERS

The Machine Gunners - The Stage

25 February 2011- by Susan Elkin


An imaginative and realistic interpretation of a Second World War novel much loved by teenagers and their English teachers for over 35 years, this well-paced show gives us some fine ensemble work by six versatile actors on Simon Kenny’s well thought out set - angular metal struts and upstage depth are ingeniously used.


The piece is set in Tyneside during the Battle of Britain and the use of archive film of both German and British planes followed by Churchill’s gravelly “finest hour” speech sets the tone at the beginning. Then Claire Sundin gives a lovely performance as feisty Audrey, the only girl among a group of young teenagers who steal a machine gun from a shot down German plane and try to take the law into their own hands with it - against real fear, immaculately evoked in this show, of imminent German invasion.


David Kirkbride is very watchable as the gritty Glaswegian lad and Michael Imerson is strong as the central character Chas, the only actor who doesn’t double. Scott Turnbull’s Cem bubbles with life, Chris Coxon is moving as the rich boy who loses everything but makes some friends and Matthew Brown is a convincing German airman (among other roles). Most of these actors originated in the north east which adds authenticity to the voice work.