There's girls happily skipping in the street, boys spotting the war planes overhead and neighbours arguing on their doorsteps as normal life carries on in early 1940.
War has been declared but no-one believes it will come anywhere near their front doors. As the air raid sirens blare across Salford they all trundle down to the shelters, laughing, joking and making deals with the local spiv. Then reality hits home…
Tomorrow night, Lower Kersal Young People's Group - with a cast of twenty people ranging in age from ten to 86 – aim to bring that reality to life again. And, having seen the dress rehearsal, it's going to be one hell of a reality.
"You get to realise what people were dealing with at that time" says scriptwriter Joe O'Byrne, more famous for portraying modern day aggro through his Paradise Heights series of plays and films (see here).
"A lot of people forget that Salford was hit bloody hard, particularly on the 23rd and 24th December 1940 when six hundred people were killed in that one night, including 16 nurses at Hope Hospital" he adds "We wanted to bring that out and this cast has been amazing, all working together giving to each other, they're a great group."
For REELmcr's Jacqui Caroll, who worked with Joe and the cast for almost a year to bring the production to life, it's been a total journey of Salford war time discovery…
"We've been researching all the real things that happened in Salford, so it's not a parody of how it was during the war, it's how people really were and the characters that lived here and still live here" she explains "To get this play on, every part of this community has pulled together, being proud of their heritage, and it feels like the war time spirit again."
Jacqui and Reelmcr are no strangers to Salford, having made loads of top films with the community in East Salford and Langworthy – WrecKed, A Knight In Salford, and Gas and Air, to name a few (see here).
Meanwhile, with Lower Kersal Young People's Group, REELmcr has made the films Top Deck and Fruits of Our Labour but Keep Calm and Carry On is the first live show with people in the area.
"I've worked with this group for ten years and seen them grow and there's a lot of talent here, some proper actors, better than you see on the telly" says Jacqui "They've been amazing but they've never been on stage, never mind the Lowry's Quays Theatre, so it's going to be massive."
For Tommy Lever, of Lower Kersal Young People's Group, the decision to go live was a real challenge…
"Over a year ago we were sat at a committee meeting, looking at ways for the group to push on" he recalls "We'd made films and documentaries and done commissions for other people but we'd never done theatre work. So, twelve months down the line we've got Keep Calm.
"It's obviously been very hard because people haven't done live theatre" he adds "But we've got a good cast, a good storyline and I just hope that on the day we can do the story justice."
The Group definitely do Salford's war time heritage justice. It's the human asides that bring added poignancy – from the spiv's cod in the toilet, to the `scarlet' woman's dalliance with Yank troops and the air raid shelter love affair blossoming between two elderly citizens.
As REELmcr's Jacqui Carroll says, they haven't gone for the Hollywood ending – they've gone for the Salford ending. And it's well worth watching…
Keep Calm and Carry On
Sunday 5th August
Quays Theatre, The Lowry
The play is almost sold out – but for availability contact The Lowry or follow Lower Kersal Young People's Group on facebook – click here