Bob Taberner of Folk Monthly
reviews A Day's Work by The cast of A Day's WorkHaving formed alliances with France and Russia in order to protect its imperial assets from their expansion plans, Britain in 1914 had little option but to join a European war when the two power blocs squared up to each other. You know the rest. Mick's excellent folk musical has been re recorded to meet the current interest in the war. He has assembled a new cast
including Maggie Boyle, Heather Bradford, Paul Downes, Pete Morton, Matt Quinn and Greg Russell.
There have been many dramas written about the Great War as the centenary approaches, but this folk opera was originally devised in 1995. How has this 20 year old show survived the transition to today? Very well. In fact, Mick's work touches on subjects that contemporary views of the war haven't covered. Maybe I haven't been paying attention, but I haven't noticed soldiers self harming in order to avoid the conflict as in the song Gimme A Blighty. And there hasn't been much discussion of the debate that took place in religious circles about the notion of a 'just' war as in The Call.
I was constantly reminded of the ground breaking film 'Oh, What A Lovely War; one of the first productions to question the justness of the war and to expose its horror. `A Day's Work' takes a similarly robust, antiwar stance. Is it, as Mick's song says, What Men Do? Many of the songs, of course, make most sense within the context of the show. The Night describes the fear felt during night time exchanges between the front lines. The Estaminet is about the desperate search for diversion before going to the front.
It's a bit superfluous to say that the songs and their presentation are excellent. How could it be otherwise with such a cast? The booklet is particularly good, as is the recording quality and presentation by Wildgoose.