Love story set in war-time Dorset coming to Dorchester stage

A STAGE play set in Dorset that tells the story of a couple caught up in war-time struggles will be performed in Dorchester next month.

The new adaptation of Devina Symes’ novel, Stronghold of Happiness, will be staged at The Corn Exchange on September 30.

It tells the enduring love story of local couple, Peter and Ella Samways, who each experience life-changing conflict – Ella on the home front and Peter on the battlefront and the consequences of Ella’s trauma.

Reunited, their story deals with the aftermath of crisis as they make sense of their changed lives.

The play and the novel tackle strong themes of abuse that make them unsuitable for a younger audience, a spokesperson for the production said.

The play begins in 2005 when the older Peter and Ella are invited to watch a rehearsal of their story, which the local drama group has chosen to perform.

Devina Symes said: “I wanted to tell a story that turned the tables on the usual narrative about war and look at the unspeakable traumas and conflicts sometimes experienced by vulnerable women left at home.”

Nuanced writing about the Home Front has become increasingly popular in recent years, with novels including Atonement and Human Voices capturing the traumas, tragedies and complex ethical dilemmas in the lives of women at home.

All proceeds from the performance will go to West Dorset Women’s Refuge Welfare Committee.

Harry Cockerill and Tilda Sansom will play the young couple, while Barry and Chrissie White will play the contemporary couple.

Symes’ novel will be available on the night and is also available in bookshops and online.

The performance is being sponsored by Purple Business and Personal Accountants, Poundbury, Dorchester.

The performance is set to get underway at 7.30pm on September 30 at the venue, in High East Street. Tickets cost £10 from, or on the door, subject to availability.

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