THE Octagon Theatre's 40th anniversary season has got off to a fantastic start.

The incredibly moving And Did Those Feet could have proved a very difficult act to follow, but Oh What A Lovely War proves more than up to the task.

It's funny, sad, sometimes tragic, but again, like its predecessor, it's about community.

Joan Littlewood's play is about the triumph of the human spirit over tragedy, adversity, catastrophe and horror.

The songs - and you know what they are -are belted out with vigour, joy and passion by the brilliant chorus and orchestra, while a screen behind delivers the sobering facts; 300,000 allied casualties during August 1914 and 21,000 Americans became millionaires during the First World War.

And they still carried on singing about packing up their troubles in their old kit bags.

The stage set is absolutely superb, Mark Babych's direction incredibly ambitious - there's just so much going on; songs, machine gun fire, speaking in foreign tongues, acting, dancing, killing - and the costumes are witty and very clever.

Matthew Kelly proves himself an incredible versatile actor and his casting alongside his son Matthew Rixon is absolutely right, while Jeff Hordley and John McArdle deliver spot-on performances.

There's not much to cheer in war and as the play moved on the mood become more sombre and cynical.

Again, the Octagon has got it spot on... if you didn't laugh, well, you know the cliche.

Oh What A Lovely War is at the Octagon Theatre until November 17. Tickets 520661.