Saturday 16 March 2024

Barbed Wire and Teddy Bears

Barbed Wire and Teddy Bears
by Karen Forbes | directed by Robert Little
14-16 March 2024 | matinée 16 March 2.30pm

Photography: Andrew Evans

Barbed Wire and Teddy Bears tells the story of four children, Gwen, Tommo, Roy and Queenie, growing up in Jersey when the island was occupied by enemy forces between 1940 and 1945. In this original and inventive play, we share their childhood fun and mischief when living under German rules and regulations, unaware of the dangers they faced ̶ and the many sacrifices their parents made to keep them safe.

Local author Karen Forbes based her play on verbatim childhood memories from survivors of that time, mostly now in their 90s, as collected by her friend Therese Tabb during lockdown. Proceeds from Therese’s book, Occupation Memories, benefitted the Red Cross, in recognition of the wartime food parcels they delivered to the Channel Islands when conditions there became increasingly desperate.

Barbed Wire and Teddy Bears was first performed (to full houses) at Jersey Arts Centre, St Helier, during the island’s Liberation Week celebrations in June 2022. In addition to receiving rapturous local reviews, many similarities were then noted with the war in Ukraine that had started earlier that year. Given that background, it is particularly appropriate that ticket sales from this Sewell Barn production of the play ̶ formally its UK premiere ̶ will help to relieve wartime suffering through the Red Cross Ukraine Aid Appeal.


"I left feeling completely blown away. Nothing could have possibly prepared me for its brilliance both within its attention to nuance and detail, and for its thoughtful and carefully considered choices. I really cannot recommend this play enough. It's a joy and sorrow to watch. You'll be taken to places you didn't expect to go and you'll be torn apart to be put back together with a new appreciation of the times and world we live in now. A beautiful tribute to the lived experiences of real people with the fantastical element that brings you back to the warmest parts of childhood. It would be an absolute crime if this play disappeared, I really do hope it finds a new, more long- term home some time in the future. It was an absolute gift to be able to see this show." Megan O'Neill (UK Theatre Network (click here for full review)

"A serious point in history made very understandable - I wasn't really aware (of) the suffering of the channel islands. Brilliantly portrayed. I loved seeing those adults turn into kids!! Well done all of you." Vicky

"What a wonderful show at the Sewell Barn Theatre last night! Barbed Wire and Teddy Bears was great piece of ensemble theatre, energetically performed by six actors dramatising the experiences of children living through the German occupation of Jersey and based on eye witness accounts. The actors held our attention throughout with beautiful attention to detail in their characterisation and excellent timing." Clare Williamson - Front of House Manager

"An interesting spotlight on a less discussed aspect of history, and a reminder that these same threats are all too present." James Goffin - Cultivated (click here for full review)

Tickets, or by phone 0333 6663366.

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