From Here to Eternity
Charing Cross Theatre
Donald Rice and Bill Oakes
Set in Hawaii in the weeks before the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, this tale follows the story of two US soldiers as they fall in love with the wrong women amidst an escalating war.
This version of From Here to Eternity is an adaptation of a 1954 Oscar-winning movie, telling the events that occurred in the G Company based in Hawaii leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, resulting in the formal entry of the United States into World War II.
Prewitt (Jonathon Bentley) is a soldier with a strong sense of duty that has recently joined the G Company. Lucky for Prewitt, he is partnered up with Maggio (Jonny Amies), a witty, sarcastic soldier who understands the dynamics of the company and access to various sources of information. The soldiers frequently visit the brothel in town, owned by Mrs Kipfer (Eve Polycarpou). Rather than visiting the Brothel for pleasure like the other soldiers, Prewitt is in love with one of the prostitutes there, Lorene (Desmonda Cathabel), and wants to spend their life together.
The innovativeness of this piece lies in its staging, the Charing Cross Theatre is very close to an arena stage, with audiences on all four sides of the stage. Majority of the audience are seated at the front and back of the stage, with a small number of seats on the left and right. Effectively, anything that there is very little room to bring in large pieces or hiding them away. To overcome this, the stage is simple, with small props hidden within trunks, which in turn are stacked and re-arranged to form desks, beds, and soldiers’ training materials. Instead of simply lifting and moving these It is worth noting that the trunks are moved by the cast with military precisions and movements, re-enforcing the environment the casts are in to the audience. Despite the minimalistic approach, this did not dampen the effectiveness of transitions between scenes. One minor note, there are two pillars, doubling up as storage on the front and back of the stage, directly in front of the audience on either side. There are a couple of scenes where characters would perform in front of or behind the pillar, depending on which side you sit, which would obstruct the audience on the opposite side from having any view of what is going on.
There was remarkable consistency in the cast’s performance, and just like the choreography, including the synchronicity of the push ups of a dozen men, the musical numbers were sung with utmost control and clarity. Rarely have I seen every musical number performed without any hiccups and hesitation. Often, the actors would sacrifice the occasional notes to prioritise certain emotional deliveries, but this was not the case for this production. Given the relatively small space, the intricate facial expressions could be examined thoroughly, adding to the actors' arsenal of weapons without the need to sacrifice the technical aspect of the singing.
From a story’s perspective, instead of going for something that is ground breaking, it builds on a tried and tested formula that works and is welcomed by the audience. Despite this, the production ought to be applauded for its preciseness, well-choregraphed routines and flawless vocals, reflecting the military discipline of the cast.