‘Swan Canaries’ ITV & Buxton, ‘Wanderlust’ at Create

Hen and R 4Ria Ashcroft and Angela Warren in Swan Canaries – Photo by Ralph Barklam

So we’re off to Buxton to perform at Buxton United Reform Church at 7.30, on the 25th, 26th and 28th July. The show in Beeston with our ‘B-shift’ went brilliantly, with a sterling performance from Emma and Anna, and a lovely big audience, who sang along merrily. Leftlion came along, and gave us a lovely review:

Swan Canaries

Penny Reeve went to see Arletty Theatre’s touring play about the Chilwell Canary Girls…

2014 marks a century since the beginning of The Great War. This, we can presume, is one of the reasons why Arletty Theatre, a troupe funded by the Arts Council England, decided to bring some of our local war heroes to life on the stage.

For those of you that don’t know, Chilwell Canaries was the name for a group of amazing women who, in the First World War, filled bombs in a factory in Chilwell. The Canary Girls were so named due to working with explosives, which stained their skin yellow. Up to 19 million bombs were filled in the factory up until the 1 July 1918, when the factory exploded, killing many of the workers. Amazingly, those that survived the explosion returned to work the next day.

Swan Canaries focuses on four women working at the factory in the lead up to the explosion, Rose, Mary, Polly and Violet. Polly is a young girl working in the factory whose fiance has been called to the front line. She is shown the ropes by his mother, Rose, who bears a secret about the boy. As tempers rise and lives are threatened the secret becomes more of a burden to those involved.

The sets were very bare and the actors relied on movement and song to bring the story to life, which gave the performance a homespun and engaging feel, reminiscent of the ‘make do’ attitude of the war.

One of the best parts of the play was the community vibe that was brought to the church hall in which we watched the drama unfold to life. At half time there was a sing-a-long of old war songs, including It’s A Long Way To Tipperary and Pack All Your Troubles (In Your Old Kit Bag). The audience were even provided with a song sheet and everyone, whether they knew the song or not, joined in. It definitely kept the audience on their toes and the older members of the audience looked delighted to have a good ole knees up.

At turns funny, thought-provoking and harrowing, Swan Canaries masterfully examines the camaraderie between women from a small village working together for the good of the country. The play will be touring for a long while yet, so we recommend that you grab your nanna and take her out for an evening that neither of you will forget for a long while.

Swan Canaries was at Chilwell Road Methodist Church on Friday 11 July 2014. The tour continues across the region, please check Arletty Theatre website for details.

Our pals The Gramophones are off to Edinburgh with Wanderlust soon, and have a sharing of this new production on Friday at Create, tickets available here:


So its going to be an exciting few weeks all round. Don’t forget to watch us on the ITV News tonight at 6.30 or 10pm!

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