Theatre review: Early One Morning at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton

Early One Morning, Octagon Theatre, Bolton. Photo: Ian Tilton
Early One Morning, Octagon Theatre, Bolton. Photo: Ian Tilton

The same cast that performed so admirably in the previous production, “Journey’s End,” don khaki again for this follow-up which tells the true story of Private James Smith, shot for desertion during the first world war.

Playing the role of Private Smith is Michael Shelford, a familiar face at the Octagon after a series of accomplished performances. This performance must rank as his finest hour as he gets to grips with what must have been his toughest role yet and plays it for all it is worth.

Private Smith was a good soldier who had seen a lot of action and a lot of carnage before falling victim to what would be recognised today as post-traumatic stress disorder. After going missing for a third time, he was sentenced to death and was executed by fellow soldiers who wanted no part in killing their own.

Little wonder then that “Early One Morning” demands your attention and gets it, and director David Thacker must be congratulated on the presentation. Colin Connor acts as narrator as well as Sergeant Fielding and so ensures that we never forget that this is a true story.

James Smith was one of 307 British soldiers executed during the first world war who were granted a pardon in acknowledgement of them as victims of war. This play is a fitting tribute to them all.

It runs until November 1st and tickets can be obtained on 01204-520661.