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The Long And The Short And The Tall

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The Heinemann Plays series offers contemporary drama and classic plays in durable classroom editions. Many have large casts and an equal mix of boy and girl parts. Set in the Malayan jungle in 1942, this play explores what happens when soldiers have to confront the reality of war.


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The Heinemann Plays series offers contemporary drama and classic plays in durable classroom editions. Many have large casts and an equal mix of boy and girl parts. Set in the Malayan jungle in 1942, this play explores what happens when soldiers have to confront the reality of war.

30 review for The Long And The Short And The Tall

  1. 4 out of 5

    Gerhard

    Willis Hall’s 1958 play has lost none of its power and relevance even by today’s standards. When it first made its appearance on the Fringe of the Edinburgh Festival, the memory of WWII was still a firmly lodged thorn in the minds of millions of people worldwide – whether those actively involved in the waging of war, or those who had to endure privation and sacrifice on the home fronts and in occupied countries (irrespective of these hapless players being labelled as Vanquished or Victorious.) I Willis Hall’s 1958 play has lost none of its power and relevance even by today’s standards. When it first made its appearance on the Fringe of the Edinburgh Festival, the memory of WWII was still a firmly lodged thorn in the minds of millions of people worldwide – whether those actively involved in the waging of war, or those who had to endure privation and sacrifice on the home fronts and in occupied countries (irrespective of these hapless players being labelled as Vanquished or Victorious.) I can imagine an ex-soldier, still troubled by indelible recollections of fighting in the unaccustomed heat and forbidding topography of the jungles of Malaysia, watching this play performed on a night out at London’s Royal Court Theatre in 1959. I have a feeling this mythological theatregoer would have been pretty shaken by the time the final curtain came down. Sergeant Mitchem and the six men under his command have reached the turn-around point of a reconnaissance patrol through the jungle. Before returning to Base Camp fifteen miles distant, they take a rest in an abandoned store-hut. The patrol has confirmed the apparent absence of Japanese soldiers in the area. The men are a mix of NCO’s and privates. The good-natured and sometimes malicious ragging to be expected among men from various geographical backgrounds and the verbal clashes between the rebellious Private Bamforth and Corporal Johnstone are rendered in vivid dialogue by the playwright. Even though the patrol is in a situation fraught with danger, there is no immediate sense of catastrophe. For the time being, the only worrying note would appear to be Private Whitaker’s inability to make radio contact with Base Camp. The capture of a lone enemy soldier causes some excitement, but all too soon a voice coming through on the radio puts a different slant on their situation and on the fate of the Japanese soldier in their hands. Willis Hall’s play is many things – a tautly-written look at ordinary men ultimately reduced to nothing more than pawns in a game not of their own choosing; an examination of racial prejudice tempered by unexpected compassion as the men’s differing viewpoints define their attitudes to the Japanese prisoner; an eloquent statement on the futility of war; and a worthy addition to the many fictional works with WII as background. I sincerely hope that the age of this fine play will not be instrumental in barring modern readers from making its acquaintance. Hall has something of importance to say, and we should afford him the common courtesy of heeding the message.

  2. 4 out of 5

    A.L. Butcher

    Not leaving a review as I read this many years ago but it is an excellent and moving play about soldiers in the Malay Jungle in World War II. Very poigniant, very moving, prepare to cry.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Georgia Goddard

    Not my kind of genre that i like, but i can see why others who appreciate this type of literature like it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    A highly entertaining and insightful play about a group of English soldiers trapped in the Malayan jungle in WWII. Wonderful characters and dialogue with some interesting points about life and war :)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lil's Vintage World

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jay Hemsworth

  7. 5 out of 5

    Chris Butterworth

  8. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Simpson

  9. 4 out of 5

    Shelley Knott

  10. 4 out of 5

    Faye Latham

  11. 4 out of 5

    Al McDonald

  12. 4 out of 5

    S.P. Muir

  13. 5 out of 5

    Karen

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mark Ashley

  15. 4 out of 5

    Colin

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mark Halliday

  17. 5 out of 5

    Eleanor

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rose-marie De negri

  19. 5 out of 5

    Emily Hewitt

  20. 4 out of 5

    Isca Silurum

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nicola Bolderston

  22. 4 out of 5

    Philip J Belgardt

  23. 5 out of 5

    Russell Davis

  24. 4 out of 5

    Edward

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tarquin

  26. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin Fisher

  27. 4 out of 5

    Emma Lobb

  28. 4 out of 5

    Susan Cowling

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

  30. 4 out of 5

    Laura

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