Great War Theatre

Performances at this Theatre

Date Script Type
N/A Eyes Front Unknown
17 Apr 1916 Du Théâtre au Champ D'Honneur Professional
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Performed by Sarah Bernhardt and described as 'a performance of outstanding humanity' (Birmingham Daily Post, 18 April 1916)
20 Apr 1916 Une d’Elles! Professional
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'The superb acting of Bernhardt weaved a magic spell' (Birmingham Daily Gazette, 22 April 1916)
12 Jun 1916 Joyland Professional
24 Nov 1916 Howard and Son Professional
15 Jan 1917 The Flip Mr Flop Unknown
22 Jan 1917 Anthony's Dilemma Unknown
19 Feb 1917 The Frenchwoman Professional
25 Jun 1917 Follow the Flag Professional
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Twice nightly 6.45 & 9pm A Gigantic National Revue. Powerful cast including Walter Passmore, Rosie Reys, Maudie Francis, William James, Leo Ray. (Evening Despatch - Monday 25 June 1917)
25 Jun 1917 Follow the Flag Professional
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"Follow the Flag" the elaborately staged and interestingly patriotic revue, has a great reception here this week. Among the excellent single turns special mention should be made of that of Dorothy Storm, a double-voiced vocalist, Ernesto, musical juggler, and Elsie Prince, clever juvenile performer, also do well. (The Stage - Thursday 28 June 1917)
30 Jul 1917 Three Cheers Professional
10 Sep 1917 Joyland Professional
14 Jan 1918 Flying Colours Professional
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‘Those who appreciate the humour of Captain Bruce Bairnsfather will flock to the Grand Theatre to see his trench episode, “The Johnson ‘Ole,” in which Harry Thurston will appear as “Old Bill” (The Walrus). This sketch, in which Mr. Macdonald Hastings has collaborated, was the forerunner of these episodes, and it has been played over 200 times at the London Hippodrome’. Birmingham Mail, Friday 11 January 1918. ‘“Old Bill” (the Walrus) met a hearty reception at the Grand Theatre last evening. It is fortunate that laughter is not yet a controlled commodity. “The Johnson ‘Ole,” by Captain Bairnsfather and B. Macdonald Hastings, is a genuine bit of trench humour, free from artificiality, and well suited the taste of last night’s audiences. Mr. Harry Thurston is exceedingly popular as the now familiar Old Bill, and he is well supported by the other members of the company’. Birmingham Daily Post, 15 January 1918.
18 Mar 1918 Airs And Graces Professional
22 Apr 1918 Hotch Potch Professional
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Performers: Fred Kitchen, Nora Delany
3 Jun 1918 Three Cheers Professional
22 Jul 1918 Ocean Waves Professional
7 Oct 1918 The Passing Show Of 1918 Professional
4 Nov 1918 Airs And Graces Professional
30 Dec 1918 Flying Colours Professional
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‘Captain Bairnsfather’s sketch, “The Johnson ‘Ole,” is an episode of real trench humour, and the audience is held in a constant state of laughter. The scene is laid in “ Plug-street Trench,” and the lending characters are Old Bill (the Walrus) and Our Bert. The former part is taken by Harry Thurston and the latter by W. P. Sheen. Even if the imagination has been stretched in some respects, the language of the different characters has not been, for it is typical of the London soldier’. Evening Despatch, Tuesday 31 December 1918. ‘The tabloid form of the play associated with the name of Captain Bruce Bairnsfather makes very good entertainment for music-hall audiences. “The Johnson ‘Ole” is “The Better ‘Ole” in name only. A trench episode has been selected with the object of focussing attention entirely on the purely humorous side of Old Bill’s character. With the aid of Mr. B. Macdonald Hastings incidents and dialogue have been created and built up which reveal the central figure in a funnier light than we know him in the original form, without regard to whether or no he thereby becomes more remote from truth and probability. In one respect, and that only, the sketch is a more faithful reflection of trench life, and that is in the language put into the mouths of Old Bill Bert, and ‘Arry. It has all the directness and wit of the Cockney Tommy, and last night achieved the result aimed at in keeping the audience in constant state of laughter. Mr. Harry Thurston, of course, is playing Old Bill - his original character. It was an excellent piece of work’. Birmingham Daily Post, Tuesday 31 December 1918. ‘The irresistible humour of Old Bill (Harry Thurston) and his fellow warriors in “The Johnson ‘Ole” got right at the audience last night [at the Birmingham Grand], this funny episode of the trenches being all the more appreciated, perhaps, because the scene has now been robbed of its terrors’. Birmingham Daily Gazette, Tuesday 31 December 1918.