Bomb Happy has just completed touring venues in Yorkshire this autumn.
” This play about ordinary men in extraordinary times deserves a much wider audience…This really is a must see play, which will stay with you forever.” Paul Reed, BBC Historian, The World at War
“Bomb Happy is a verbatim victory. It isn’t just another play about war; it is a treasure trove of priceless primary source material for the ages.” Richard Beck, Broadway Baby -5 stars
“…it would be hard to imagine a more emotional experience at any Yorkshire theatre this season.” Charles Hutchinson, York Press
“An incredibly powerful and moving piece. Brilliant cast. Veterans story told in their own words. Do please see it if you can.” Neil Foster, BBC Radio York, BBC Radio Leeds
“The production is stirringly acted by its young cast…Bomb Happy is rich in historical detail and offers a fresh perspective on an important historical event.” James Ballands, British Theatre Guide
About the play
“I haven’t seen anybody dead before and we’re in the water wading to the shore and we’re literally brushing against…. bodies rolling in the surf – people that we know…eighteen, nineteen year olds –they’re people that we know…”
Evocatively built from the verbatim testimonies of the last remaining York Normandy Veterans by playwright Helena Fox, with a haunting soundtrack by Sam McAvoy, and atmospheric lighting design by Steven Woolmar, this important new play immerses you with surging immediacy into the lives of five ordinary young conscripts as they set out for Normandy, allowing you to experience through their eyes events of D-Day to VE Day, events that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
Photo: Michael. J. Oakes
“Bomb Happy follows each veteran’s journey from the D-Day landings to VE Day, and through battles in between to liberate Europe, and the drama of conflict acquires even more impact from highlighting the long-term impact of conflict stress/post-traumatic stress disorder on both veterans and their families.” Review, York Press
“What we see on stage are not worldly-wise old men reminiscing about the past but boys shipped to an unknown land being confronted with the carnage of the battlefield. This inspired device heightens the already vivid language and provides a powerful sense of immediacy and involvement.” Review, Broadway Baby
“Helena Fox’s outstanding play is both a fitting tribute to these Normandy Veterans, and a credit to a younger generation who are helping keep the memories of those dark days of the Second World War alive for posterity… I hope this play is provided an opportunity to reach an even wider audience in the coming months, and years… ” Review, Carl Shilleto, Historian
Yorkshire Tour Dates 2017
6th October Helmsley Arts Centre 7.30pm
13th October Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond 7.30pm
26th October Pocklington Arts Centre 7.30pm SOLD OUT!
10th November Square Chapel Arts Centre, Halifax 7pm SOLD OUT!
16th November Junction, Goole 2.30pm
24th November Otley Courthouse, Leeds 7.30pm SOLD OUT!
Photos: Michael J Oakes Cast: Carl Wylie, Joe Sample, Thomas Lillywhite, George Stagnell, Beryl Nairn & Adam Bruce
Bomb Happy brings to life the verbatim first- hand accounts of the last five York Normandy Veterans (interviewed in 2016) , Smudger, Hank, Cookey, Bert & Merry, telling the story of the D-Day Landings and the battles to liberate Europe from the point of view of these raw young conscripts- lads from York, Leeds, Sheffield and London.
Having finally received the highest accolade for their bravery from the French Government over seventy years later in 2016 through the presentation of the Legion D’Honneur medal, the play also touches on the lifelong impact of that iconic day for these incredible men, now in their nineties and living in Yorkshire.
Bomb Happy is a verbatim play, written by Helena Fox, from the recorded interviews and personal memoirs of the last five York Normandy Veterans and produced by Everwitch Theatre in partnership with Helmsley Arts Centre. The play originally came about when the Veterans voiced their concern that their experiences – a critical moment in British History where so many young men lost their lives – would die with them.
“Absolute first rate production, that fully deserved a standing ovation when I saw the show on its opening night. The performance of Bomb Happy is not to be missed…” Audience Member, Major (Ret’d) Frederick Greenhow MBE
“Helena Fox’s production of ‘Bomb Happy’ was simply incredible. Such a powerful and moving tribute to the veterans, three of whom were in the audience.” National Youth Theatre Actor, Alastair Coughlan
What the audience said at our rehearsed readings 2016:
“ Evocative and involving- superb!”…. “A brilliant and moving insight into what it was like for the fighting soldier…. mixing the soldiers humour with the horror of war.” ….“ Immersive and engaging … I’d like to see this up at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017- please!” …”Brilliant performances!”…
“spellbinding”…”evocative, emotional and thought provoking- a wonderful script, so well written.”….” the actors were brilliant- their delivery spot-on.”
“The stories were strong, the accounts so vivid”…”moving and very impressive. The young men were brilliant in the way they told the stories you’d woven together so well.”
“I really enjoyed tonight’s reading of Bomb Happy. You did a great job of telling the stories, mixing the soldiers humour with the horror of war. The actors were brilliant. ”
“Thoughtful, meaningful script with a beautiful message.”… “A moving legacy to the lives of real life war –heroes.”.
Ex- soldier’s feedback: “I felt as though I was there. I’m an old soldier myself with service in conflicts ( 1st Gulf War, Bosnia and NI)- I understood all those old voices. Thank you.”
Meet the real soldiers behind
R to L: Ken ‘Smudger’ Smith, Ken ‘Cookey’ Cooke, Dennis ‘Hank’ Haydock, Albert ‘Bert’ Barritt and George ‘Merry’ Meredith. Photos courtesy of BBC Historian and Presenter Paul Reed
“The five veterans had voiced their concern that their experiences would die with them. Helena Fox has honoured them, both the young men who never came home and the veterans, by telling the old soldiers’ stories in verbatim form, giving equal measure to all five. Fox said everything they wanted to say, the veterans said immediately afterwards at Helmsley Arts Centre on the opening night, visibly touched by what they had just witnessed.” Review, York Press
UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY TO MEET THE VETERANS…..they’re on tour with us! The now three remaining York Normandy Veterans together with the wives & widows of Veterans whose testimonies appear in the play,will be in attendance at all venues this Autumn. Please come and say hello to them after the show!