VERY few communities across the UK could have marked the centenary of the end of the First World War more fittingly than Riding Mill.

The village has been festooned with thousands of knitted poppies, painstakingly crafted by residents over the past two years.

The dramatic displays have provided the backdrop for various local services and events to mark the solemnity of the occasion.

Also two years in the planning, has been the drama club’s production of Oh What A Lovely War.

Fittingly, this theatrical chronicle of the horrors of the Great War surpassed the high standards expected of this talented group of players.

Like the village’s programme of events in and around Armistice Day, it was utterly outstanding.

Oh What A Lovely War is a hugely ambitious challenge for any drama club to undertake. It has a large cast and chorus, engaged in sketches and singalong music, along with scene changes and movements of rapid-fire velocity.

Under Carole Smith’s painstaking directorship, with able assistance from musical director Michael Pritchard, the challenge was overcome with polished aplomb.

The company of 15 on stage, with backing from a seven-strong chorus and the expertise of pianist Di Dickinson, gripped the audience from start to finish with a glorious concoction of slapstick, satire, singing and sadness.

A complex two-hour journey through the phases of the war was completed without a flaw, thanks to the skill of the cast and hard-pressed backstage team.

Such were the ample skills of the cast in a fast-changing myriad of roles, it was impossible to single out any individual for mention. This was an impeccable triumph for teamwork.

The opening set the scene perfectly, conveying the sentimentality and jingoism which so marked the early stages of the war.

Gradually, almost imperceptibly, the mood changed as the war transitioned into the tragic stalemate in the trenches which cost so many lives for so little gain.

The Riding Mill audience went home with the title song reverberating in their heads.

But not before the haunting penultimate song – And When They Ask Us – reminded everyone of the ultimate futility of the war and the humility of all those who survived it.