And a Nightingale Sang, Norwich

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Neville Chamberlain announcing war in our time and the wail of a siren sketch the background for CP Taylor's chronicle of a northern Catholic family.

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

Neville Chamberlain announcing war in our time and the wail of a siren sketch the background for CP Taylor's chronicle of a northern Catholic family.

At the piano John Barnett plays Vera Lynn songs to set the mood, a mix of nostalgia and real regret.

The scenes are introduced by brief narrative passages in the past tense. They remind us all this is history. The dialogues have an uncanny accuracy in their endless meanderings and inconsequentialities, as well as a certain fruitiness.

There are six strongly drawn characters who director Trudy McGilvray handles neatly, using the oblong stage to keep the action flowing, and a lot of period detail is recreated with loving care.

The lighting seems dimmer than it need be except for the the air-raid shelter episode.

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This is a play of brief encounters for young people struggling to cope emotionally.

Grandpa, a veteran of 1914, has learned cynicism which stands him in better stead than father's communism or mother's faith. The girls muddle through, trying to create lasting relationships.

t And a Nightingale Sang continues at the Sewell Barn Theatre until Saturday February 15. Box office: 01603 666332.

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