The Accrington Pals (excerpt 1). RALPH: Oh my dearest, my own little pocket Venus my rose of Clayton-le-Moors. This is no letter you’ll ever get. My love. Reference: / Title: Accrington Pals: Playscript. Held by: Lancashire Infantry Museum, not available at The National Archives. Language: English. The Accrington Pals is originally set in a small Lancashire town at the . For your audition you will be provided with a script extract based on the character.

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The young men of a Lancashire mill town leave their homes and lovers for the trenches of the Somme.

A moving and often comic evocation of the suffering of the women they left behind. Playwright, Peter Whelan was born and raised in Stoke-on-Trent. He started work at the Stoke Town Planning Office as an assistant surveyor and his varied list of former jobs includes farm worker, manservant, demolition worker, hall porter, advertising copywriter and English teacher.

In and he undertook his mandatory 2-years of National Service which must have had a profound influence on his writing as a acfrington of his plays have a military conscription theme – notably ‘A Russian in the Woods’ and ‘The Accrington Pals’. He has received a number of nominations from the Writer’s Guild and he sxript their accringon regional theatre play award’ in While the story itself is fiction, the background is reality.

The Pals were formed and fought just as they are described as doing in the play.

The Accrington Pals Written by Peter Whelan

The play was first published inbut was first presented in by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Their experiences of life on the Western Front are contrasted with the women who are left behind in Accrington, women who come together as friends when facing financial, social and acvrington deprivation, as well as being thrown into the social changes that came along with the absence of many men. The main characters, too, are contrasted; May, as independent, hard-working, fruit and veg stall holder, Tom, her lodger, as optimistic and idealistic and Eva, May’s trusted and generous confidante and sweetheart of Ralph.


The play has fun and light-hearted moments, which are starkly contrasted with the terrifying reality hundreds of men faced at the Battle of the Somme in After the last 3 performances the play was followed by a free performance entitled ‘Women and War’ ; a Bench Fringe Theatre production given free of charge.


We have not sought an accurate rendition of Accrington historically or geographically. We have sought to avoid anachronistic behaviour so that the audience may see it within the context of Accrington but without losing those contemporary parallels of which the writer speaks. If the audience becomes unduly worried about the dialect, then they and we accribgton somehow missed our way. Our concern has been to explore and express the self-made difficulties man puts between himself and his fellow scrkpt – when philosophies stifle the sound of the beating heart – when mere words come before deeds.

Throughout the play there is a recurrent theme of water seen perhaps as a relentless fate, but surely blood is thicker than water? Peter Whelan writes “These mothers, wives, daughters and lovers of the Pals didn’t knuckle under sheepishly to authority in the way I had supposed.

This note appeared in the programme: In return Mr Turner would be interested to get in touch with anyone who scriot any connection with the Pals. Sadly, Bill Turner died inbut his work to establish and maintain an archive of all the Accrington Pals continues with other archivists.

But don’t get the the impression that Peter Whelan’s intense and moving story – about acrington real-life battalion wiped out in the trenches, and their women left at home in Lancashire – is just a tear-jerker. Sentimentality has no place in this play, it leaves simple pathos behind. Under Peter Corrigan’s direction, the cast of ten turned in fine, solid ;als.

The Accrington Pals

Fittingly, it is the fine women who take the bow at the end, since they represent the human qualities that endure and survive once male comradeship, loyalty, palz even heroism have passed away.


Central to the excellence of the performance was the relationship between Scipt, the Amazonian, sharp-tongued spirit of free enterprise, and the self-possessed Eva, who in her quiet sensible way, knows the weakness of her man yet loves him for it.

Nicola Scadding and Dawn Dobbison were towers of strength as these wonderful women. The smaller roles rounded them out beautifully. Every part was important but I was especially taken with the way Jeanette Dobney made the most of Sarah’s humour, and Jane Hart’s transition from shrew to a woman falling to pieces, as Annie.

Peter Woodward commanded the men in every sense as Company Sergeant Major Rivers, adoptive father to the Pals when they join the new family of comrades. He beats the irresistible drum that lures the lads off to war, creating the final divide between dreamy Tom played with sensitivity by David Brown and May. What really choked me about this powerful production, as good as anything you could hope to see in any local commercial theatre, was that it had opened to an audience of 18 and still had empty seats on Friday night.

The Accrington Pals (Modern Classics) Peter Whelan: Methuen Drama

It deserves the best possible support for the rest of its run – tonight, and from Tuesday to Saturday next week at Havant Scri;t Centre, at 7. Bookings on Havant This excellent band of actors should be supported by the people of Havant and even Portsmouth for their work is of a very high standard.

They are never afraid to put on controversial plays like ‘Bent’ and ‘The Pals’.