First Light

A new play by Mark Hayhurst

Minerva Theatre
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Mark Hayhurst has concocted a compelling piece of meaty historical dram and Tom Gill and David Moorst are a terrific pairing in Jonathan Munby's stylish production, which boasts some wonderfully fluid and inventive scene changes between the home front and the blood-soaked fields of France.

Evening Standard

Timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War’s bloody Somme campaign, Mark Hayhurst’s terrific new play is a superb reminder that even a century on, the Great War is still boilingly controversial.

Mail on Sunday

First Light is only Mark Hayhurst’s second play but it demonstrates a depth of feeling, richness of content and mastery of form . Tom Gill and David Moorst exude authenticity as the deserters and Sam Phillips is splendid as a sympathetic lieutenant but the evening belongs to Phil Davis, the essence of dogged resilience as Bert’s heartbroken father. First Light is gripping, emotive and deeply humane

Sunday Express

Mark Hayhurst's play is sharply intelligent and emotionally jolting and Jonathan Munby's production employs parallel storytelling to great effect. In a precision-drilled cast of 14, David Moorst, who won three outstanding newcomer awards last year, confirms his immense potential as Alfie. Another exciting young actor, Tom Gill, matches him in the less showy role of the stolid, loyal Bert.


Hayhurst's last play for Chichester, Taken at Midnight, was nominated for an Olivier, First Light deserves similar acclaim. A dynamic staging of a powerful new play.

The Stage

‘Now. Tonight. Before we’re sent back to the front. Take every bit of money you got. Ditch everything else.’

July 1916. Albert Ingham and Alfred Longshaw are crouched in a muddy, rat-infested trench in France. These sharp and funny young soldiers from a battalion of the Manchester Pals are about to take part in one of the most savage assaults in the history of human warfare, The Battle of the Somme.

Their survival is a miracle. Their company has lost 600 men. Overwhelmed by the sheer horror of the experience, neither of them dare stare extinction in the face again. So, when they are ordered to transfer to the Machine Gun Corps and return to the blood-soaked front line, they decide, for the first time in their young lives, to take their fragile destiny in their own trembling hands.

But becoming a deserter, that most embarrassing and shameful sort of fighting man, takes more courage than they ever knew they had.

Mark Hayhurst’s new play is a gripping thriller that exposes the impact of the First World War on soldiers and their families. It follows Hayhurst’s acclaimed debut at Chichester with Taken at Midnight (2014) which transferred to the West End in 2015.

Jonathan Munby’s previous productions at Chichester include A Number (2006) and She Stoops to Conquer (2007). His recent work includes the highly praised Wendy and Peter Pan (RSC) and The Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare’s Globe).

Cast & Creatives


Cast List

Phil Davis


Tom Gill


David Moorst


Amelda Brown


Philip Cumbus

Max Henderson and Sergeant Emment

Alex Jordan

Squire and Parfitt

Niall McNamee


Sam Phillips

Lieutenant Jennings

Tim Preston


Kelly Price


Edward Sayer


Freddie Watkins


Andrew Westfield


Andrew Woodall

Major General John Shea

Creative Team

Cast List

Mark Hayhurst


Jonathan Munby


Paul Wills


Tim Mitchell

Lighting Designer

Alex Baranowski


Fergus O'Hare

Sound Designer

Danny McGrath

Movement Director

Gabrielle Dawes

Casting Director



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Running Time
approx 2 hours 35 mins including the interval