Lunchbox Theatre’s In Flanders Fields a musical reminder to remember

Caroline Russell-King offers her postcard review of Lunchbox Theatre’s latest, timely production of the musical In Flanders Fields.

Show: In Flanders Fields.

Playwright/composer: Book/lyrics by Robert Gontier, music/lyrics by Nicky Phillips. 

Theatre: A co-production between Lunchbox Theatre and Forte Music Theatre Guild at Lunchbox Theatre.

Length: One act (60 mins.).

Genre(s): Musical.

Premise: After the death of his finance, the author of In Flanders Fields acquiesces to pressure from his father to abandon his dream of becoming a poet to become a doctor and gets posted to the front lines in the First World War.

Why this play? Why now?: “To you from failing hands we throw the torch: be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die” — prophetic words in time for Remembrance Day.

Curiosities: It seems as if every play I have ever gone to about the First or Second World War people stand at the end. I wonder if not to is seen as somehow disrespectful to the troops. 

Notable moment: The explosion made the person sitting next to me jump!

Notable writing: The writers portray real people from the past through the lens of overt sentimentality in an Anne of Green Gables folksy style.

Notable performance: Eric Wigston, playing the poet John McCrae, tries to bring a weight to the character, which is at times at odds with the “gee willikers” kind of writing.

Notable design: The scenic designer Kathryn Smith and costume designer Marian Trustcott give us props that are old and a palate devoid of colour to presumably denote a faded, historic sepia tone.

Notable direction: Musical director Joe Slabe joins Valmai Goggin as co-director and the two of them have done a fine job of keeping the story moving.

One reason to see this show: Lest we forget. (Don’t forget to bring a donation with you for the veteran’s food bank and buy a poppy when you leave.)

(Photo of Eric Wigston, left, and Nick Driscoll courtesy Benjamin Laird.)

In Flanders Fields runs at Lunchbox Theatre until Nov. 9. For tickets and showtimes go to

Caroline Russell-King is a playwright, dramaturg, and instructor. She is a member of The Playwrights Guild of Canada, the Dramatist Guild of America and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You can find her work here