Number 60 to the Somme, a play with music celebrating the ‘only and best’ B-Type London bus, premieres in Chichester from November 3-7, at the Riverside Theatre, Chichester College.
The Great War was an extraordinary mobilisation of men, women, animals and machines. The B-Type bus – open-topped, steel-wheeled, solid, dependable – was dispatched in huge numbers to serve in Belgium and France. The vehicles became troop transports, mobile hospitals, pigeon lofts – and were put to any and every perilous use on the rough roads and tracks.
Written by Greg Mosse and The News’ food critic Carol Godsmark based on a storyline from her novel, Ghost Army, Number 60 to the Somme tells the story of Jim Swift, a London double decker bus driver who, against his family’s wishes, enlists to drive his bus to the Somme. His is one of many leaving London’s streets for the front line to join the First World War effort.
This unknown story of the First World War is brought to vivid life by an ensemble company directed by Roger Redfarn.
Characters include Jim Swift’s father Alf, his brother Billy, Jim’s fiancée Vera Thwaites, Vesta Tilly and Marie Lloyd, both major music hall artistes and Jim’s captain, Captain Jackson, a bus inspector and an historian.
Roger Redfarn’s professional career includes 22 London productions including Dad’s Army with the original cast, Barry Manilow’s world premiere of Copacabana and What a Performance with David Suchet plus Chichester Festival Theatre’s Underneath the Arches and Song of Singapore.
Tickets £10-12, visit chichestercommunitytheatre.org.uk/tickets. Shows start at 7.30 pm with a 3pm Saturday matinee. Parking available.