Poppies

Poppies received two very special showings at The Imperial War Museum.

The Premiere was at the Imperial War Museum North on Friday 10th November 2006, followed by a second showing at The Imperial War Museum in London on Saturday 11th November 2006.

Paul at the I.W.M, London, 11.11.06

Photography by Michelle Harris

Both showings were followed with a discussion of the film at which the director, Barry Bliss, along with cast members Paul McGann, Gary Kemp, Susan Vidler and Marian McLoughlin were available for questions relating to the production.

Synopsis

(from the Poppies film site)

The year is 1986 - Tony Hudson (PAUL McGANN) is a writer who embarks on a play about the Battle of the Somme (fought in 1916) in which his grandfather and two great-uncles were killed.Tony becomes ever more involved in the story, until it borders on the obsessive.

He begins to retreat into childhood memories, at the exclusion of his partner Cathy (SUSAN VIDLER) who is a painter. The relationship begins to unravel amid recriminations until a crisis point is reached as the play is completed. The only thing that will justify the sacrifice is its performance before an audience. But there is no interest in it - even the fringe theatre group of which Tony was a member refuse to entertain it.

Tony's last hope comes when an invitation is received from Bea Daly (MARIAN McLAUGHLIN), artistic director of a provincial theatre to a read-through with her stock company of actors. Ironically the play's only performance will have an audience of one - Tony himself. However even this is in doubt as Bea's position is threatened by the new forces of commercialism represented by John Brady (GARY KEMP).

 

Cast

Paul McGann
Susan Vidler
Gary Kemp
Marian McLoughlin
Paul Mari
Roger McKern
O T Fagbenle

Review

This film is touching and incredibly thought-provoking. It is essentially a story of loss and rememberance, but tells so much more.

It is about a man's desire to express his feelings through his writing and make those thoughts public. However he is unwilling to adapt his writing to appeal to a wider audience and becomes ever more drawn into his childhood memories and away from his relationships, primarily with his girlfriend but ultimately with friends and colleagues alike.

Paul is excellent as Tony Hudson in this film - the main character who almost loses that which is very precious to him.

The other actors play a variety of roles which I have to admit to finding slightly confusing at the beginning. As the film wore on, however, I grew to like this idea as the focus remained on the story itself and not on any one individual character/actor.

Gary Kemp's roles, in particular, were quite different, and demonstrated his ability to change characters and still be incredibly believable.

There were some very emotive scenes in France and watching this film on Remembrance Sunday was particularly poignant.

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In the discussion following the film, Barry Bliss was asked why the many roles for the cast and was it a financial decision. Although this may have been a factor the predominant reason was to echo the old time of theatres, when actors would have taken on many roles (both on and off-stage).

I found the film very interesting and thought provoking and was glad I had the opportunity to listen to the director and actors discuss it afterwards to explain some of the history - the financial problems, the belief and dedication of the cast etc.

This film deserves a wider audience and with financial backing will hopefully get that chance.

 

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