IT only debuted in 2008, but Alan Pollock’s acclaimed play about the Coventry Blitz is about to embark on its fourth run!
Last week, the Solihull News had chance to chat with the writer about the events that led him to pen One Night in November - a love story set against the horrendous events of the 1940 attack.
“I remember sitting in the classroom as a 12 or 13-year-old boy and hearing about these events,” says Alan, who grew up in the city
“But what struck me as an adult was to consider this shockingly brutal attack and suddenly thinking, gosh, what if something could have been done to prevent this.”
He’s alluding to the theory that wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill knew about the raid in advance, but chose to do nothing for fear it would alert Adolf Hitler to the fact that the Allies had cracked the Nazis’ Enigma Code.
“It’s unprovable of course, but the people who argue he didn’t know always ignore the RAF report which said that there was knowledge at the highest levels.
“Churchill may have thought that a sufficiently large city destroyed may have been enough to drag the Americans into the war.
“It does raise questions if there was that knowledge why more wasn’t done.
“A lot of the damage was done by incendiary bombs and fire crews could have been placed on stand-by without alerting the Germans anyone knew about the raid. Maybe even the cathedral could have been saved.”
When it debuted, the show won particular plaudits for its special effects, that were used to conjure up the chaos and terror of the Luftwaffe bombardment.
“I remember at the time, asking if we could deliver ‘shock and awe’ and I was just blown away by what we were able to achieve in a theatre,” says Alan, when asked about the explosions and other pyrotechnics.
“I understand that this year’s show is even more visceral. I haven’t seen it for myself yet, but I can’t wait to find out what they’ve come up with.”
Is Alan surprised that the show has had so many runs in a relatively short period of time?
“Well I knew there was something about the subject matter which is very powerful, but I had no idea how big an impact it would have.
“I suppose I started to realise when I took an old friend to see the dress rehearsal and he leant across to me after the show and said ‘I think you’ve got a bit of a hit on your hands’.”
The production has been picked up by a number of am-dram groups and Alan is delighted to hear about a performance last autumn by Solihull’s own Moat Players.
“I saw a fabulous production by a company in Ashby-de-la-Zouch. They were amazed I’d travelled to come and see it, but really it’s such an honour when someone decides to perform your work.”
l One Night in November is on at the Coventry Belgrade from September 28 to October 19.