Theater: Back to the Trenches

A profound and affecting old play about World War I offers a portrait of men in combat--without polemics

The most harrowing battle scene in Journey's End, R.C. Sherriff's 1928 play about World War I now being revived on Broadway, comes with the stage entirely emptied of people. We're in a dugout in the British trenches in France, and two officers have just left to lead a dangerous raid into the German front lines. They must make a dash of 70 yards, grab a prisoner and return. All we hear is the offstage sound of explosions, machine-gun fire, the shouts of men. A puff of smoke wafts in from outside. Then it's over.

One of the wonderful things about the scene...

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