Amy Hamlen, star of Keep the Home Fires Burning, as part of Ventnor Fringe Festival. Picture by Jennifer Burton.
THE Pier Street Playhouse hosted a spellbinding premiere on Friday night, as the Guildford-based Apollo Theatre Company (not to be confused with the Newport-based collective of the same name) presented Keep The Home Fires Burning, a play focussing on the contributions of women during the Second World War.
Written by and starring Amy Hamlen, this was a gripping insight into the unrecognised significance of an entire gender during hostilities.
Pianist Timothy Bond accompanied the actress with some poignant, wistful arrangements helpfully providing an essence of the era. Regular wireless sound bites also assisted in lending legitimacy to proceedings.
While these elements notably supplemented the show, the heart and soul came courtesy of Hamlen, whose portrayal of various female roles served up a cocktail of subtle humour and insecurity, simultaneously shedding light on an unwilting sense of duty.
Operatic vocals reverberated throughout the Playhouse in all of her songs, with the intimate enclosure a fitting stage to showcase such a harmonious Bel Canto.
That this was all achieved with a handful of swift apparel alterations and occasional switch of accent was testament to the skills of a young performer who seems destined to rapidly ascend her craft. The script was succinct throughout, with the length of the show ensuring that it never had the chance to become tiresome.
Concluding with the poignant message that over seven million women had contributed to the Second World War and a second rendition of the title track, the sell out audience stood in unison to applaud a triumphant debut production.