Inspirational play about World War I nurses

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THE ever-vigilant Q in Queanbeyan has come up with a beauty in its Anzac Day programming.

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Written by Caroline Bock and Helen Hopkins, “The Girls in Grey” is a play that pays attention to the service of the nurses who served during World War One. In addition, it aims to “inform, educate and preserve the voices of these women for a new generation.”

For most Australians, the authors argue, the images from the First World War are largely filled with males, soldiers marching, relaxing in billets behind the front line, in the trench, wounded on stretchers.  This ignores the reality that 2,139 female Australians served overseas, and 25 of them died.  These were The Girls in Grey of the Australian Army Nursing Service Reserve, and those recruited from the civilian nursing profession.

In this revival of the play for A Critical Stages and The Shift Theatre, Canberra-raised director Tom Healey and his cast bring to life Australian Army nurses in a powerful retelling of their experiences, much of it from their own diaries and letters.

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The story focuses in on Elsie, Grace and Alice, who leave Australia in 1914 determined to prove their worth and find adventure  in Egypt, Lemnos and the Western Front. The company  says, “Elsie always looks for the brighter side. Her infectious sense of humour disguises a fierce determination to follow her husband Syd to war. Courageous Alice is drawn to adventure, unexpectedly falling in love with Harry, a soldier whose fate is to be at the dreadful battle of Fromelles. Sturdy, serious Grace is the demanding yet compassionate Matron whose calm resolve is gradually eroded by the anguish of war.”

With the Centenary of the Great War on our doorstep, The Q says, “The Girls in Grey” is “both a timely and powerful story for all Australians.”

You can bet there won’t be a dry eye in the house – and it has the approval of historians!

“The Girls in Grey” at The Q, Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre, April 24-26, bookings to 6285 6290 or

Performances: Thursday  April 24, 8.00pm, Friday April 25, 5.00pm, Saturday April 26, 2.00pm & 8.00pm

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Helen Musa
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