Mark Letheren (Rolf) and Olivia Hallinan (Lotty) in Lotty's War
Mark Letheren (Rolf) and Olivia Hallinan (Lotty) in Lotty's War

THANKFULLY, Hitler and his armies never put a foot onto English soil. But the Nazis invaded the quiet island of Guernsey and its easy-going people.

So a serious and thought-provoking play – described as a love story – held a far-from capacity audience in its thrall.

Lotty’s War by Giuliano Crispini is right for the time, concentrating as we are on marking the outbreak of that other war to end all wars.

Lotty’s War is a three-hander and one which tells how a Guernsey girl who is sweet on a somewhat daft local lad falls for a German officer who made her home his own. The levels of interest ebb and flow as feelings, good and bad, alter and emotion, also good and bad, seep into the lives of the characters.

Oddly enough there’s a gentle atmosphere as the German occupation continues for several years. The sheer horror of the isolation is well captured, although sometimes I felt the play was somewhat lost on the huge Opera House stage. Alas, the sound could have been better.

The author is clever when he asks us, the audience, to try to understand how we would feel had we lived in war-time Guernsey, a sunshine island loved by tourists and exporting the best tomatoes in the world.

As the two-timing lover, Olivia Hallinan acts with conviction, as does the German officer played by Mark Letheren. Adam Gillen (Benidorm) also grabs attention.

Lotty’s War isn’t a high-flying piece of drama, but it does give us cause to ponder. Fear and tragedy walk hand in hand with a little light humour.

A serious play at the Opera House? Yes, and that’s good news in itself.