R.C. Sherriff's Journey's End

Satisfactory Essays
R.C. Sherriff's Journey's End

Set on the Western Front, ‘Journey’s End’ is based on R C Sherriff’s

experiences as an

Officer in the trenches of the First World War. It was the first war

play to look at the reality of the day to day life of soldiers. Prior

to ‘Journey’s End’, plays either demonised the enemy, and focused on

deeds of heroism, or preached the futility of war.

This play was one of a number of literary works, produced about 10

years after the end of the war, which showed the horror of war by

looking at the mens’ day to day lives. These included ‘Undertones of

War’ by Edmund Blunden, ‘Goodbye to All That’ by Robert Graves, ‘All

Quiet on The Western Front’ by Remarque, ‘Her Privates We’ by Frederic

Manning and ‘Memoirs of an Infantry Officer by Siegfried Sassoon.

In a ‘Journey’s End’, the horror of war is often shown in the

subtext, of the soldiers conversations, not by the direct actions of

the men.

Although in the first instance it was rejected by theatre managers,

the play went on to strike a chord with the public and had a two year

run in London. They responded to the play because it showed them, for

the first time, the fear and squalor that the men faced continually

and how they dealt with it.

Extract 1 (Pages 1-4) gives the audience the opportunity to understand

the terrible conditions in which the characters lived. The characters

engage in sarcastic banter as they can not afford to give into their

true feelings towards the situation. Everyone does what they can to

keep each others spirits up.

The Director would need to enhance the horror of the mens’ situation

in the way that he sets the stage. The setting is a dug out in a

trench during World War I. A depressing mood and claustrophobic

atmosphere needs to be created by this set and the lighting. The

beds, table and stalls need to be on top of each other, rotten wood,

the occasional sound of dripping water and a muddy floor are

essential. Bottles, glasses and papers need to be piled high on the

small table.

The dugout should be poorly lit, by a candle or oil lamp. The sky,

visible through the door, needs to be bright. The contrast between

light and dark represents the soldiers’ confinement versus the world

that they knew before the war.

If the characters had the choice they would not talk about death and

squalor, however it is the stuff of their daily lives. They get

around talking about the subject but using light hearted banter.