You never know what to expect when it comes to am-dram, but Wolvercote’s St Peter’s Players and debut playwright Will Hazell crafted something special with their new production, Merely Uniforms, writes Gary Clarke.

Staged in Wolvercote village hall, it was set in the quintessential English village of Little Widdle during the run-up to the D-Day invasion.

It followed Private Harold Furze as he tried to navigate love, expectation, angry villagers, and officers who were more interested in fighting each other than the Germans. There was a lot packed into this two-hour production, but at no point did it become confusing or lose the audience’s attention.

The engaging cast kept the narrative moving at a steady pace while allowing time for the script’s traditionally British humour to breathe. Each character in this 23-strong ensemble was distinctive and played with just the right amount of exaggeration to be memorable, but not overdone. However, beyond the comedy there lay a poignant message, something that is a feature of this play.

On the surface, it was an almost farcical comedy, but as the story developed we realise that each character is far deeper than they seem: some avoid trauma to by clinging to past glory, while others hide fear with bravado.

This balance of the funny and serious is executed very well. One moment you are feeling the hopeless confusion of young soldiers facing war, and the next you’re almost falling off your chair laughing at the antics surrounding a dinner party.

Some of the bigger scene transitions were clunky and disruptive, and there were a few stuttered lines, but overall this was a well-performed show that displayed the best of am-dram. A fun and thought-provoking show that asked questions about duty, the nature of war and the role of ‘small’ people in big events.