All aboard Number 60 to the Somme
at Chichester College’s Riverside Theatre
Number 60 to the Somme, a play with music celebrating the ‘only and best’ B-Type London bus by Greg Mosse and Carol Godsmark, had its world premiere at Riverside Theatre, Chichester College, West Sussex, in 2015 and has been performed by other theatrical groups since then. If you wish to read the play to see if it suits your group, please contact Carol Godsmark.
Winston Churchill Fellow Roger Redfarn has a professional career boasting 22 London productions including Dad’s Army with the original cast, Barry Manilow’s world premiere of Copacabana and What a Performance with David Suchet plus Chichester Festival Theatre’s Underneath the Arches and Song of Singapore. Roger was also responsible for national tours as well as productions in America, Australia, Canada, the Far East and Europe. He was the artistic director of the Theatre Royal Plymouth for 10 years, Cameron Macintosh commenting: “There is no other theatre in the country that has the range of high quality theatre across its stages than this city enjoys.”
Greg Mosse is a creative writing teacher and author. Carol Godsmark is a journalist and author. Both live in Chichester and will be in conversation with Roger about the play’s research. Based on a storyline from Carol Godsmark’s novel, Ghost Army, Number 60 to the Somme tells the story of a London double decker bus driver who, against his family’s wishes, enlists to drive his bus to the front during World War I.
The Great War was an extraordinary mobilisation of men, women, animals and machines. The B-Type bus – open-topped, steel-wheeled, solid, and dependable – was dispatched in huge numbers to serve in Belgium and France. The vehicles became troop transports, mobile hospitals and pigeon lofts; they were put to any and every perilous use on the rough roads and tracks. This unknown story is brought to life by Chichester Community Theatre with bus driver Jim Swift played by Brighton-based actor Ben Cassan under the direction of Roger Redfarn.
West Sussex County Times review of Number 60 to the Somme:
Not only is it a deeply-impressive new play from Chichester’s very own Greg Mosse and Carol Godsmark, the production offers a remarkably-assured debut for the city’s wonderful new asset, the Chichester Community Theatre.
Their first outing suggests Chichester’s cultural landscape has gained a terrific new player. With No 60 to the Somme, the company has set the bar very high indeed, and it will be fascinating to see what happens next. Mosse and Godsmark choose to focus on one Jim Swift, a decent, honest chap with a sweetheart in tow. He’s doing alright. He’s got a good job. But when the Great War breaks out, he can’t resist the challenge to join up. Ben Cassan is perfect as Jim, wrestling with the disapproval of his father (Andy Horner) and torn by his love for the fiancée he’ll leave behind. Cassan makes Jim’s sheer ordinariness both moving and compelling as tragedy closes in. Steve Wallace is also impressive as The Historian who steps out of the audience to narrate the tale, offer asides and fill in the full historical context.