Arms and the Man at the Abbey Theatre Studio, St Albans

Surbiton County Grammar and Company of Ten versions of Arms and the Man

Surbiton County Grammar and Company of Ten versions of Arms and the Man - Credit: Archant

Shaw’s satire on love and war, Arms and the Man, which is being performed by the Company of Ten in St Albans from tonight, has particular resonance for Angela Stone.

For Angela, who is directing the production in the Abbey Theatre Studio, starred in it herself more than half a century ago.

She explained: “In 1958, I took the lead role of Raina in a production at Surbiton County Grammar School. I was just 18 and with the exception of the servant girl, Louka, who was played by a friend of mine, all the other parts were taken by adults – the chaps were played by teachers and the school secretary played my mother!

“I’ve had a great fondness for Shaw ever since, so when the opportunity came up to direct the play for the Company of Ten, I jumped at the chance.”

Set during the 1885 Serbo-Bulgarian War, the play follows the fortunes of a well-to-do Bulgarian girl (Raina) and a Swiss mercenary soldier from the Serbian army who takes refuge in her bedroom – and satirises both romantic love and the glorification of war in the process.


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However there are some significant differences between the Company of Ten’s interpretation of the play and Angela’s school production. She said: “Aside from the fact there are no teachers in this version, it’s a studio production, so it’s much more intimate.

“I also felt strongly that the characters should not speak with RP [Received Pronunciation] accents, so while my Bulgarians have Yorkshire accents, my Swiss soldier is Welsh and my Russian officer is upper-crust English.”

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Performances take place at the Abbey Theatre Studio at 8pm from tonight (Thursday) to Saturday (14) June, at 2.30pm on Sunday (15) and at 8pm from next Wednesday, June 18, to Saturday, June 21.

To book tickets go to www.abbeytheatre.org.uk or call the box office on 01727 857861.

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