The Accrington Pals is a play by Peter Whelan, set during the First World War when ‘pal’s battalions’ were created of young men who joined up together from the same town or village. Sadly, this often led to entire villages being wiped out as battalions were subject to devastating attacks. The Accrington Pals from East Lancashire were one such battalion, and at the end of the first day of the Somme offensive in 1916 at least 584 of the 720 troops who took part were killed, wounded or missing.
The play, which I saw at the Bridewell Theatre performed by Sedos, focuses on this battalion and the women left behind in the town, with a particular focus on grocer May and her second cousin, the idealistic Tom. It’s affecting and emotional, and it’s very well acted, although I wasn’t sure about the decision to use present-day costumes: while the theme of war is universal, this particular play is specifically about World War I. However, ultimately this didn’t affect my enjoyment.