A play telling how a village refused to honour its war dead over a shot deserter - then finally came to erect a memorial - is to be told on stage in South Shields.
The Fulstow Boys, is inspired by the true story of the village of Fulstow, in Lincolnshire, which did not have a war memorial until 2005.
When it was originally offered one in 1918, villagers were told it would not include the name of a soldier shot for desertion – so they turned it down, insisting all seven of the men from the village who lost their lives in the conflict should be included.
It was such a sensitive issue that Armistice Sunday services were never held at the parish church, although the village hall was built in honour of the three men and one woman from the village killed during the Second World War.
When community stalwart Nicola Pike questioned the lack of a memorial and started a fundraising campaign for a plaque on the village hall to honour the First World War heroes, it attracted local, national and international media attention.
The Fulstow Boys – named after the seven soldiers who grew up together in the close-knit community – has been written by Gordon Steel and produced by Teesside-based Steelworks Theatre Company, in association with The Customs House.
It is part of commemorations to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.
Gordon, who also wrote Grow Up Grandad, Like A Virgin and Studs, said: “After witnessing how soldier Charles and his wife, Dora, prepare to say goodbye on the cusp of the First World War, the audience are brought back to the present, as they watch a group of Fulstow residents debating the idea of a war memorial.
“The plot revolves around the tenacious Nicola Pike, who, determined to right a wrong that had been hanging over Fulstow since the First World War, managed to bring the world’s news media to the village in 2005.
“It has been really well received and won standing ovations every night of the tour so far.”
Laura Mould, who has previously appeared in The Full Monty UK Tour, Girlfriends and Coronation Street, will take on the role of Nicola Pike.
The roles of Charles and Dora will be played by Joshua Hayes, who has appeared in Dr Who and Hollyoaks and Katy Federman, who has appeared in Sherlock’s Last Case, Deathtrap and Concrete Jungle.
Teesside-born actor Simeon Truby, who has appeared in The Pitmen Painters, The Crucible, Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Hollyoak, will play the role of Graham.
He will be joined by David Nellist, who has had roles in War Horse, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Taboo and Sherlock, and young talent Ash Matthews, who appeared in The ABC Murders, Home Alone Series 2.
The Fulstow Boys will be at The Customs House from Monday, September 24, to Saturday, September 29, with performances at 7.30pm and a 2.30pm matinee on Thursday and Saturday.
Tickets, priced £15, are available from the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or online at www.customshouse.co.uk.