Dare Devil Rides to Jarama

Dare Devil Rides to Jarama: The Sherling Studio, Lighthouse, Poole. (1st February, 2017)

It may have all happened eighty long years ago but with the recent rise of the alt right and neo-Nazi politics, the horror of the Spanish Civil War doesn’t seem particularly remote any more.

 Cue Townsend Productions timely production, Dare Devil Rides to Jarama, which focuses on just two of the thousands of volunteers who in the 1930s left their homes and families to head for Spain and take up arms against General Franco’s brutal facist regime.

Actor musician David Heywood plays working class former speedway star Clem ‘Dare Devil’ Beckett while the play's author Neil Gore is intellectual communist writer Chris Caudwell. They make unlikely friends. But drawn together by a common political cause they fight side by side to the death at the bloody Battle of Jarama.

Tempered by humour, song and some suitably raucous audience participation, this cleverly crafted play deals with a painful and violent period of history in a manner that manages to be informative, entertaining and respectful.

The first half focuses on Clem Beckett’s rise as a Speedway star and his clashes with corrupt and manipulative bosses in both sport and industry.

After the interval we find Clem and Christopher as unlikely brothers in arms in Spain facing, like so many others, impossible odds in their fight for freedom.

This is a lovely play. Funny, poignant and superbly acted. It was commissioned by The International Brigade Memorial Trust and is directed by Louise Townsend.

If you missed it at Poole it plays Burton Bradstock Village Hall on Saturday 4th February.

Jeremy Miles



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