Review: The House Behind the Lines

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By Yvette Huddleston

The response from the creative community to the centenary commemorations of the First World War has already given us a wealth of profoundly moving works across a range of artforms.

Few, however, have highlighted the story which emerging Leeds-based company Buglight Theatre have brought to the stage with their powerful production The House Behind the Lines. It tells the little known and seldom heard stories of the women working in the brothels on the Western Front.

Written by Lydia Rain and directed by Ruth Carney, the play presents a uniquely female perspective on the Great War and reveals the hidden history of sex workers who were fighting their own battles during the devastating conflict. Julie Higginson as the steely Madame and Keeley Lane and Kimberley Hart Simpson as two of her employees – each with their own poignant back story – all give layered and beautifully judged performances. They get solid support from Richard Galloway and Jack Alexander who sensitively portray a variety of men and provide evocative musical accompaniment.

The affecting narrative unfolds against the backdrop of Kevin Jenkins’ skilfully designed set which evokes both the brutal squalor of the trenches and the chintzy shabbiness of Madame’s red light refuge.

Civic Barnsley, December 1.