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Diary of a deserter; HAMP, MIDDLESBROUGH.

THE stark realities of World War One will be brought to life on the Teesside stage this coming week.

Middlesbrough Theatre is staging a production of poignant drama Hamp from Wednesday - part of the Great War season.

The drama is being brought to life by actors from the Middlesbrough Little Theatre group and showcases aspects of the war that many choose to forget.

Central character is Private Hamp, a nonentity plucked from the grime of a Lancashire mill town, is thrown into battle at Passchaendale.

One day he scrambles out of a shell hole and walks away - only to be court martialled for desertion.

The play tackles the inevitable outcome and how Hamp's colleagues and senior officers deal with it.

Directed by Chris Metcalfe, MLT's cast is, as usual, filled with talented Teesside actors.

"By any stretch of the imagination, Hamp is a somewhat pathetic figure. Even his own father calls him somewhat 'gormless',' but at the start of World War One in 1914, Hamp volunteers and quickly finds himself in the trenches. For three years he and his unit fight their way around Belgium until, in 1917, Hamp snaps and walks away. He is, of course, apprehended and the full power and ire of the British army descends upon him," said Chris.

"Despite the army's unbending attitude towards 'deserters',' Hamp in his naivety remains convinced that everything will be alright, that the army has better things to do than bother with him."

Aspiring actor Sam Hinchcliffe takes the part of Hamp, fresh out of college, he has a multitude of amateur productions under his belt.

Joe Harrison makes his debut MLT role as Midgeley, the prosecuting officer; George Collings plays the padre - his second MLT outing since appearing in Ladies' Day and a regular on stage with Nunthorpe Players.

Bill Colombi plays Prescott and William Harrison as Private of the Guard - a young soldier who is involved in Hamp's trial. He tries, along with the Corporal of the Guard Ryan Johnston, to help Hamp through his ordeal.

This year, of course, marks 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War.

Hamp highlighted for the actors that enemies were on both sides of the lines drawn in the conflict. Millions lost their lives - including many British and Commonwealth soldiers who were executed after court martials for cowardice or desertion.

Hamp, Middlesbrough Theatre, Wed Oct 15-Sat Oct 18, tickets PS9/PS10, www.middlesbroughtheatre.co.uk for information

CAPTION(S):

Hamp played by Sam Hinchcliffe with Harry Mett, Ryan Hunt, Lee Blake, George Collings and Bill Columbi

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Oct 10, 2014
Words:427
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