War Stories

Commissioned by 24:7 Theatre Festival both to commemorate the start of World War One and to develop their relationship with the You Are Here Festival in Canberra, War Stories brings together two writers on different sides of the globe. Emma Gibson in Australia and Rob Johnston in the UK collaborated via email and Skype, to create this compassionate and sensitive piece which had a huge impact in 24:7 Theatre Festival.

Elsie is an Australian nurse who wants to be a part of the war, and sets out on a journey across the world to find her brothers serving in the Australian army. While working in a French hospital Elsie meets Bernard, a journalist-cum-soldier from Manchester slowly recovering from battle. A warm and convincing portrayal of two people playing their part in history, War Stories also offers fresh perspectives on the sometimes forgotten role Australia played in World War One and on how we use stories to guide us through the inexplicable.

“Based on true accounts of the Australian Red Cross, it has a particularly affecting passage of quiet heroism, in which Emily Spowage recalls an escape from a torpedoed transport vessel by clinging to a drowning mule.”
The Guardian

“The most emotionally engaging piece of the evening is set on the fringes of the first world war… Performance and production standards are high throughout, but [co-writer Emma] Gibson’s characterisation of the Australian nurse beautifully balances direct narrative delivery to audience and storytelling skills with emotional expressiveness and impressive restraint.”
The Observer

“[Director] Benedict Power finds some lovely moments of lightness and ease… A solid and powerful piece of theatre.”
The Public Reviews

“An excellent two-hander… Definitely one to look out for, even if you think you have had your fill of WWI commemorations as I did.”
The Good Review

“A haunting experience.”
Weekend Notes

“It takes two people with special qualities to put across the relationship between Elsie and Bernard… Emily Spowage and Joel Parry posses those qualities delving deep into the minds of their characters. It is not easy to be on stage for 75 minutes without a break but these two do it seamlessly.”
Remote Goat

“Exceptional… As quietly moving as anything else I’ve seen on World War One. Credit to director Benedict Power for bringing the work so quickly to such a fine performance standard.”
Manchester Confidential

“A dynamic piece… Both performers inject their characters with sensitivity and determination… An absorbing hour of theatre.”
TheatreWorld Internet magazine


  • War Stories is a production by 24:7 Theatre Arts in association with Benedict Power
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War Stories Trailer from Benedict Power on Vimeo.