A new ending

Published by The Spectator

Journey’s End, (Duke of York’s Theatre)

s end 2“What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?” lamented Wilfred Owen in his Anthem for Doomed Youth. When RC Sherriff wrote his play Journey’s End just a decade after the Great War, he never set out to answer this haunting question or justify what he had witnessed at Passchendaele. But he was the first to bring the horrors of trench warfare to the stage, and by so doing he spawned a genre that would be satirised and appear a generation later as Oh, What a Lovely War!, and a generation after that as Blackadder Goes Forth. With their “simply topping” humour, “ra-ther” eccentricity, and “thanks most awfully” irony, they serve to remind us of the futility of war: they ensure that we will remember. Continue reading