Two youth theatre groups have joined forces to perform a satire on the First World War.

The St Albans Youth Music Theatre and the Company of Teens are putting on Oh What A Lovely War at the Abbey Theatre from tomorrow.

The play was original because it viewed the war from the perspective of the common soldier, and counterpointed popular songs such as It’s a Long way to Tipperary and Pack Up Your Troubles, with grim statistics from newsreels of the time projected onto the stage. The public had never before seen popular entertainment express the disenchantment felt at the time by the average man in the trenches.

The piece emerged from Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop. Although a script was written it was soon ditched, and after much research, the cast created the show from scratch, keeping only the title and traditional music hall songs, often with a change in lyrics. It was a truly collaborative production.

“In the original performance, the actors were dressed in Pierrot costumes,” explains director Beccy Baird. “This drew attention to the contrast between the horrors of war and frivolous entertainment.

“We have drawn the inspiration for our production from turn of the century music hall and circus, and are using a two-storey set for our thirteen actors, dressed with all the props and costumes they need.

“The company play a huge range of roles, from Belgian generals to Serbian spies, chorus girls to suffragettes, and the audience see the action played out both behind the scenes and front of house in a theatre, overseen by a rather sinister impressario.”

During rehearsals the teens recorded their thoughts on Oh What A Lovely War, and how much they have learned in the process.

Abbey Theatre, Westminster Lodge, Holywell Hill, St Albans, AL1 2DL, July 12 to 14. Details: 01727 857861,