Acclaim for ‘Jack’ "A totally original and brilliant show, and very moving." Chris Glynn. Ryedale Festival "The most moving hour of music I've heard in 20 years" Sir J_ "Thank you. What a moving and brilliant performance, hardly a dry eye in the house. Bravo!" Holkham Hall, Norfolk "That voice!" audience member
This hour-long piece consisting of music and dramatic readings of letters takes us into the world of nineteen year old Volunteer, Jack Ellicott. The year is 1915. Jack has signed up to join his pals in fighting the ‘queer one’. We follow him from his initial training in Blackpool to the battle front at the Somme through the letters he sent home to his Mother and Father. At times funny, surprising or deeply moving, the ordinary unsophisticated ups and downs of a ordinary soldier reveal someone in the first flush of manhood with all the accompanying joys and sorrows. As the hour of the piece goes by, we sympathise with him over his girlfriends, we feel his homesickness and are finally gutted by the horrifying waste of his final demise. Whilst this piece is specifically about our Jack it also speaks for the many thousands of soldiers like him - for the ‘Everyman’ of that Great War.
The carefully chosen interspersed songs performed by tenor Joshua Ellicott - Jack’s Great Nephew - and pianist Simon Lepper (www.simonlepper.com) reflect this directness and form a deeply moving and unique musical portrait. We do not hear the usual responses to the carnage but a selection of music that runs deeper and more directly to reveal our Jack and the huge personal sacrifice offered by so many in this tragic period of history.
The truly unique aspect of this work is the direct link between Joshua and his Great Uncle Jack. It seems most likely that Josh and Jack share a spoken Lancashire accent handed down through the intervening generations and through anecdote it is known that Jack was also a good singer. It seems entirely appropriate that a tribute to his life and sacrifice should be made in this way.
The contemporary resonances of this work are huge. The surprisingly direct and modern language of the letters enables any English speaker from any contemporary demographic to quickly 'make friends' with Jack and the music is so expertly performed and carefully chosen so as to transcend cultural bias or preconceived notions of classical art. As the commemorations contunue to mark 100 years since the First World War, this programme is an ideal way to pay tribute to those who sacrificed everything.