THE Phoenix Players' impressive production of Peter Whelan's drama focussed powerfully on a tragic period of history, and its devastating impact on a close-knit community.

Ten actors, directed by Gill Brain, captured the essence of life in the back-to-back houses of the northern town, the clamour and carnage of the far-off First World War battles (staged brilliantly, with trench and sound effects) and the poignant aftermath, portrayed with great sensitivity.

Social attitudes, family life and personal ambitions are crystallised in 18 concise scenes, linked effectively in the contrasts they convey. Costume and props were excellent.

There were good performances all round, from the soldiers played by Ben Robinson, Colin Jones, Raman Aggarwal and Vern Dunkley and Danny Robins as young lad Reggie, to fine characterisations by the five women, who stoically cope with enforced separation from their menfolk, played by Stephanie Trinci, Elly Beint, Clare Brown, Freya Brain and Charlotte Phillips. There was humour, as well as sadness.

Excellent cinematic backcloths include the real Accrington Pals and the bleakness of the deserted, misty street to which those soldiers would never return.