5-star review and two sell-out performances of Christmas Truce

Hadley and Matt with lanterns © Nigel Collister
The Sergeant (Hadley Fraser) and Private (Matt Mella) in no man’s land on Christmas morning. Photo: Nigel Collister

Epiphoni’s performances of Rufus Stilgoe’s The Christmas Truce sold out two weeks running and earned itself a 5* review in the Arts Desk (as well as a standing ovation from the audience at St Paul’s Covent Garden!).

Read the full review here

The first performance was in the atmospheric surroundings of the Gothic church of St Peter’s Vauxhall which so aptly lends itself to theatrical stagings. The second was in the Inigo Jones architectural gem, St Paul’s Covent Garden (“The Actors’ Church”).

The latter was reviewed by the Arts Desk and received a full five star rating.

In his review Bernard Hughes described Stilgoe’s script as “simple but touching and down to earth” and praised Eloïse Poulton’s direction for using the church fully and imaginatively “with the choir stationed variously around the space”.

“They make a terrific sound … the lower voices are sensational. Epiphoni is up there with the best professional choirs…”

– Bernard Hughes, The Arts Desk

The portrayals by Hadley Fraser and Matt Mella were respectively described as a likeable everyman and versatile, both praised for “understated, very humane performances”.

But he said the choir “deserved star billing” and described Epiphoni as “sensational” and “up there with the best professional choirs”.

Matt Mella as the British Officer
Matt Mella as the British Officer. Photo: Sapphire Armitage

“I cried during this moment, it was the most incredible and moving thing I’ve witnessed in a long time.”

Maiya Thapar, audience member

The Dying Soldier is an emotive piece at the best of times, but with Hadley Fraser singing the solo and Epiphoni singing the accompaniment in the round, emotion was super-charged! One audience member posted on social media that it was the most incredible and moving experience she’d witnessed in a long time.

Happily, it was captured by our photographer on video:

tweet maiyaThe performances were well received on social media with @jojohorner commenting on Twitter “so beautiful and moving” and @georginaheap that “I got to see my favourite west end performer/singer tonight with … amazingly beautiful and moving performance by all”.

We had two separate members of our audience all the way from Germany. One declared that the Bach was her highlight remarking “I do know how tricky the German language can be, especially its pronunciation; your performance was superb and well to be understood!”. Both said how moved they were by the play’s balance, how it carefully avoided any taking sides in any patriotic sense and just told the story from a human point of view. Thousands, millions of men caught up in a hellish situation not of their choosing, making one defiant stand against the architects of their misfortune by becoming allies in the midst of war, for one day.

We can’t know that it happened this way, but hope that our play captured the essence of one of humanity’s most life-affirming and fairy-tale episodes.