Doncaster theatre play a bittersweet wartime story

Laura Atherton and Jude Monk McGowan in A Farewell To Arms at The Dukes
Laura Atherton and Jude Monk McGowan in A Farewell To Arms at The Dukes

A moving love story set in the First World War and based on a novel written by Ernest Hemingway is coming to a South Yorkshire theatre.

A Farewell to Arms, performed by theatre group imitating the dog, is set in a disused Italian hospital in 1918. It is the first UK stage adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s famous story, based on his real experiences as a soldier in World War One.

Laura Atherton plays Catherine Barkley, a young VAD nurse whose fiancé has been killed in the Somme. She meets and falls in love with Fredric Henry, an American soldier she is nursing in Italy, and they have a bittersweet, intense love affair.

The second half of the show is set in Switzerland after Fredric has deserted to run away with Catherine in a doomed attempt to find happiness.

“It’s the first UK adaptation of the book which is really exciting for the company,” said Laura.“The way we work as a company is that we use a lot of digital projections.

“We use projections that can create the different worlds we’re in, which adds to and enhances the performance.”

The company use architectural mapping, a clever type of projection that can change the look of a building or surface. In the show it is used for all sorts of effects, from projecting an image of rain on to a window to making an ambulance look like it is moving. Bigger projections will show real footage of World War One soldiers.

Laura said of her character: “She has lost her fiancé and that was a terrible loss for her and then she meets someone else and falls in love.

“For me it was very important to remember the context of World War One. Because of the war, everyone has an awareness of their own mortality. She goes into this relationship a lot more quickly than her engagement, which lasted eight years.”

A Farewell to Arms is at Cast in Doncaster from next Wednesday, October 29, to Saturday, November 1. Box office: at the venue in Waterdale, online at Cast in Doncaster or call 01302 303959.