Cosmo Clark's Descendants Laud Staging of Cosmo's War

Reading of play based on his wartime letters staged at St Michael & All Angels

The cast members of Cosmo's War

A reading of a play based on the letters of a man from Chiswick who served in the First World War has been praised by his descendants.

Family members of the Bedford Park artists James and Cosmo Clark have described how delighted they were by the reading of Cosmo’s War at St Michael & All Angels Church on Remembrance Day.

No fewer than six of James Clark’s great granddaughters attended the performance and Cosmo’s granddaughters and great-granddaughters were photographed with the cast afterwards.

Cosmo’s granddaughter Fran Rhys said, “It was very moving to be there and it was a most professional and polished production – very many congratulations”.

Her sister Annie said “What an amazing evening – thank you to all who made it possible.”

Mark Izatt, a trustee of the veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress, wrote on Twitter, “It was a superb performance. I had read the letters before but this gave them a whole new meaning”.

Cosmo’s War was written by Bernard Adams, a former BBC producer, based on Cosmo Clark’s letters, to and from his family at 44 Rusthall Avenue W4. Copies of the play are now on sale via Amazon.

Cosmo volunteered for active service at the age of 17 and won the Military Cross. He documented his experiences in drawings and letters from the front and later became a well-known artist. His father James Clark painted The Great Sacrifice, described as “the most popular painting of WW1”, and The Salutation mural in the north aisle of St Michael & All Angels Church.

James Clark (left) and The Great Sacrifice
James Clark (left) and The Great Sacrifice

The production, in a packed church was enhanced by music, costumes and images, including many of Cosmo’s sketches and letters. The part of Cosmo was read by Jamie White, a history student from Chiswick, and other parts were read by professional actors. The narrator was the vicar of St Michael & All Angels, Fr Kevin Morris.

A packed church listens to the readings
A packed church listens to the readings

The play was originally performed in 2018 as a rehearsed reading at Christ Church, East Sheen. It was due to be performed at St Michael & All Angels in November 2020 but the church was closed because of COVID.

There was a collection afterwards for Combat Stress and the evening was supported by Andrew Nunn & Associates, Belinda Norcliffe Casting and Home Instead. The uniforms were supplied by Khaki Devil of Bury St Edmunds, the other costumes by Janet & John Huckle, and props by Stuart Learmonth, Cosprop, Trading Post, Abbey Fabrics and Superhire Props.

Ealing Civic Society is considering awarding a green plaque for Cosmo and James Clark at 44 Rusthall Avenue W4 1BP.

You can read more at James & Cosmo Clark: WW1 artists in Bedford Park on the Chiswick Book Festival web site.

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November 19, 2022