(Dominic Cavendish’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 12/10.)

The hugely popular and inspiring installation of ceramic poppies at the Tower of London – “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” – was co-created, along with the artist Paul Cummins, by Tom Piper, a much-valued set designer at the RSC.

I have to confess that I assumed Piper’s latest project at Stratford would be the lesser of his contributions to the centenary “war effort”. Phil Porter’s new play The Christmas Truce revisits that hallowed episode when amity and a game of football broke out between English and German troops at Christmas 1914. It’s not that the story has been done to death – but is there anything useful to say or add about it, especially when it has been so stylishly and touchingly evoked in Sainsbury's recent festive TV ad?


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