“For God’s sake! This protest of yours – is it really worth losing your lives over?”
January 1916: Bert Brocklesby is a young schoolteacher, and preacher at his local Methodist church; Bertrand Russell is one of the greatest philosophers of his time. With the advent of military conscription their worlds are about to be turned upside down.
This Evil Thing is the compelling, shocking and inspiring story of the men who said no to war; a rarely told story involving a dizzying journey from a chapel in Yorkshire to the House of Commons; from an English country garden to a quarry in Aberdeen; from a cell in Richmond Castle to a firing squad in France.
“Eighteen? You’re too young to have a conscience!”
With military conscription still in force in many countries today, and prisoners of conscience still languishing in jails, the questions posed by This Evil Thing are as relevant and urgent as they were 100 years ago.
“The Fringe-First Award winning master of the one-man show” (The List), portrays a gallery of characters from conscientious objectors to army generals, from prime ministers to world-famous mathematicians, with breathtaking physical and vocal dexterity, in a highly original piece of storytelling – using verbatim testimonies and interacting with an intricate soundscape.
Written and performed by Michael Mears
Directed by Rosamund Hutt
Sound design by Mark Noble
Set design by Mark Friend
Michael Mears is as an award-winning performer of his own original solo plays for theatre and radio.
Tomorrow We Do The Sky, about the lives of factory canteen workers, premiered at the Traverse Theatre during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1991, and was nominated for the Independent Theatre Award, and Time Out Theatre Award, before playing in London, on tour, and subsequently being broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
This was followed by Soup, his Scotsman Fringe First Award winning solo play about homelessness, which garnered five star reviews and had a sell out three week run at the Pleasance in 1995. Michael was also nominated for the Stage Best Actor Award at that year’s festival. Soup also played in London, on tour, and was broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
A Slight Tilt To The Left played at the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, in 2002, and this play, as well as four other solo plays, Slow Train To Woking, Uncle Happy, Jam and Arnold Darwin’s Feeling Better, were all specially commissioned for BBC Radio, and have been performed by him on Radio 4.
This Evil Thing, about Britain’s First World War conscientious objectors, premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2016, and was longlisted for Amnesty International’s Freedom of Expression award at the festival, the play being described as “magnificent storytelling”. It will tour to various locations in the UK throughout 2017 and into 2018.
Running time: 75 mins
Age recommendation: 12+
Warning: This show contains strong language throughout.