Echo's End

Salisbury Playhouse

Until April 15

A wonderfully atmospheric set, designed by Tom Rogers, conveys the isolation of a small rural community, in Barney Norris's play Echo's End, directed by Alice Hamilton.

Birdsong reflects peace and solitude as the distant clamour of the First World War steadily impinges on a remote corner of Wiltshire. Troops are assembling on the Plain, a wet winter brings foot rot to sheep, and young people dare to imagine a future beyond the traditional life they have known.

Kate Moore gives a sensitive portrayal of Anna, a young woman eager to discover a wider world, and reluctant to commit her future to John (Tom Byrne) with whom she has grown up. Her father Arnold (David Beames) and John's mother Margaret (Sadie Shimmin) are concerned when John unexpectedly joins the Wiltshire Regiment and prepares to go to war.

"Why can't you feel proud of me?" he asks, as he leaves to face unimagined horrors. Among the soldiers on the Plain is Jack, (Oliver Hembrough) a wounded New Zealander with an eye for the main chance, profiting from sale of Army provisions and appreciative of Anna's charms.

Robin Soans as Jasper, (an old, wise, kindly man - in his early 70s, he thinks) observes all that goes on, and is philosophical about life and relationships.

Echo's End has many delights, including its subtle lighting, silhouetted figures to suggest the changing seasons, a lively folk song evoking happier times, and over all, the shadow of the inevitable changes that the Great War will impose. Excellent sound design by Helen Skiera includes an early aeroplane, flying across the auditorium to herald a new era of inexorable change.