Great War Theatre

Performances at this Theatre

N/A Eyes FrontUnknown
17 Apr 1916 Du Théâtre au Champ D'HonneurProfessional
Read Narrative
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
Read Narrative
'The superb acting of Bernhardt weaved a magic spell' (Birmingham Daily Gazette, 22 April 1916)
12 Jun 1916 JoylandProfessional
24 Nov 1916 Howard and SonProfessional
15 Jan 1917 The Flip Mr FlopUnknown
22 Jan 1917 Anthony's DilemmaUnknown
19 Feb 1917 The FrenchwomanProfessional
30 Jul 1917 Three CheersProfessional
10 Sep 1917 JoylandProfessional
14 Jan 1918 Flying ColoursProfessional
Read Narrative
‘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 GracesProfessional
22 Apr 1918 Hotch PotchProfessional
Read Narrative
Performers: Fred Kitchen, Nora Delany
3 Jun 1918 Three CheersProfessional
22 Jul 1918 Ocean WavesProfessional
7 Oct 1918 The Passing Show Of 1918Professional
4 Nov 1918 Airs And GracesProfessional
30 Dec 1918 Flying ColoursProfessional
Read Narrative
‘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.