Jane brings Daddy’s Diaries to life at GSAL performance

Tuesday 23 May 2017

Jane Bower (OG73) brought her poignant one-woman show Daddy’s Diaries to the theatre at GSAL, where it played to a packed house.

The actress, writer and art teacher performed a dramatisation of her father Len Bower’s war years, using his original memoirs, diaries, drawings and music to bring to life his experiences in the Royal Air Force during World War Two.

The show was a moving portrayal of a young man whose world changed abruptly when he was called up at the age of just 19 and spent the war years mending military aircraft and witnessing the deaths and injuries of friends and colleagues.

Although a haunting tale, Jane told it with such humour and love that the audience came away with a real affection for Len who, at the age of 94, worked closely with his daughter as she researched and wrote the show.

Jane said: “The memoirs were the work of a wordsmith – well crafted, sensitive, easily recognisable as my father – while the diaries revealed to me an unknown young man.

“The father I knew never flew, drove a car or rode a bike, yet here he was mending aeroplanes and cycling; the man I knew as modest, shy and eschewing performance was almost off-puttingly confident and centre stage every night; easily wounded, deep, here he was shrugging off death and injury.”

While working on the script in 2015 her father would ring every evening to see how she was and end up answering questions.

She said: “The practical ones grew fewer the more I read, as I became used to his handwriting, war jargon and the names of aircraft parts, but those about his feelings, the details he did not record, became more frequent.”

Jane admits that, once finished, she felt drained as if she had also experienced those years.

“In a sense I had,” she said, “There can’t be many people who know precisely what their father was doing on every single day of WWII.”

The next performances of Daddy’s Diaries are on 13, 14 and 15 July at the Corpus Playroom, Cambridge. Visit Jane’s website for further details.

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