​​Review of opening weekend premiere of "Journey's End" by Idaho World War 1 Centennial Commission
The opening weekend performance of R.C.Sherriff"s  acclaimed World War 1 drama Journey's End by Boise State University's Department of Theatre Arts, brought to life the horrors of trench warfare during the "Great War" over 104 years after a British drummer opened fire on an enemy cavalryman on the morning of August 22, 1914.  The play spans a period of four days from 18 March to 21 March  1918, and is set in the trenches near Saint-Quentin, Aisne,  although based upon events leading up to the Battle of Saint-Mihiel on the Western Front. 

Under the capable direction of Professor Gordon Reinhart,  for the most part,  nuanced performances of the all-male student cast of  Journey's End (first performed in 1928) successfully conveys the world-weariness of the British troops not really looking forward to spending their fourth year of the war mired in the trenches.  89 years ago Great War veteran R.C Sherriff created memorable main and secondary characters in Journey's End,  that unfortunately over the decades in countless other plays or movies have been trivialized as tropes and archetypes. 

However, in this performance of R.C. Sherriff's first play, the eleven actors of the BSU Theatre Arts Department worked hard to bring their characters to life, bypassing the temptation to employ stereotypes. Francisco Negron as 2nd Lt. Raleigh is the embodiment of the raw and highly idealistic recruit, who is sent out on a mission without training and is fatally wounded by artillery fire.  Mitchell Clement (as the doomed Lt. "Uncle" Osborne) and Evan Stevens (as the beleaguered Captain Dennis Stanhope) were both outstanding as the senior officers trying to improve the living conditions and extending the lifespans of the soldiers serving under them. Director Gordon Reinhart was quoted in the September 26, 2017, issue of the BSU school newspaper THE ARBITER. " In the end, it's not about king and country or beating the Germans. It's about taking care of each other," he said.
 
There is a twelfth player not credited in the BSU Theatre Arts Department's performance of Journey's End ,   an almost living thing for whom the BSU production staff and especially Props Master JZ Marrero needs to take a bow. Together they worked to enhance the performance with the oppressively tomblike and claustrophobic appearance of the underground bunker that hovers over the stage of the Danny Peterson Theatre and creates a palpable and miasmic ambiance that extends several times into the audience during the performance, especially during Act 3 when a gas attack is simulated on stage. 

As an audience member and chairman of the Idaho World War 1 Centennial Commission, I laud BSU's Theatre Arts Department timely for their production of  Journey's End,  taking place during the  100th Anniversary of the first year of America's entry into what was supposed to be "The War to End All Wars" and honoring Idaho's World War 1 veterans.

Back in April of 1917, our  State of Idaho along with 47 other states, sent thousands of our young men and women across the Atlantic (and even further) to fight and work to restore liberty and peace. Boise State University is taking the lead in educating Idahoans as to the service and sacrifice of an Earlier and Great Generation of mostly forgotten heroes...a topic which will be the subject of the upcoming IDAHO DAY 2018 taking place on Monday, March 5 at the State Capitol in downtown Boise and of many other programs and commemorations to be produced by the Idaho World War 1 Centennial Commission in late 2017 and through 2018.

-K.C. Piccard





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