Since the show's first performance in 2012, performers taking part in the show have included Dick Gaughan, Barbara Dickson, Ian Bruce, Siobhan Miller, Ian McCalman, Brian Miller, and other well-known names from the Scottish folk scene like Sangsters, Stevie Palmer, Stephen Quigg, Ragged Glory, Sineag MacIntyre, Soopna, Donald Hay, Drew Talbot, Dennis Wilson, Gary West and Tom Ward plus BBC Radio Scotland's Iain Anderson as narrator.
The show has played in several Scottish theatres including Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (Celtic Connections Festival) - sold-out twice, Edinburgh's Queen's Hall (Edinburgh Festival Fringe) - sold-out twice, Perth Theatre, and Greenock's Beacon Arts Centre with other shows currently under discussion.
A very notable experience was the show's successful trip to Bordeaux in October 2014 at the invitation of the town council.
Far Far From Ypres was originally conceived as a celebration of World War One songs and poems, mainly Scottish, for a double album on Greentrax Recordings. This evolved quite naturally into a stage production at the 2012 Celtic Connections Festival where it was described by the Festival Director, Donald Shaw, as “brilliant”. Scottish TV said, “powerful solos, robust melody and beautiful harmony, told stories of excitement and hope, suffering and endurance, humour and escapism, fear and disillusionment, in the words of those involved in the horrors of the Western Front”.
An Edinburgh Festival Fringe review said: “an inspiringly convivial experience, where the audience joined the performers in choruses that echoed into the deep spaces of the hall” and “a standing ovation raised the roof of The Queen’s Hall for several minutes after the show had finished. It was a stirring end to a night honouring a terrible tragedy, one that left the entire audience moved and sombre, but strangely elated.”
Iain Anderson, brilliantly links the songs with stories about the hero of the show, Jimmy MacDonald, who was born in “any village in Scotland” and tells of Jimmy’s recruitment and training then follows his journey to the Somme and back to Scotland. It would not be a Scottish tragedy without laughter, so there are also stories of humour and joy that take this production well away from a path of unremitting gloom.
The performance comprises two fifty minute halves with an interval. The cast remain on stage throughout the performance, singing the trench, marching and music hall songs of the period. Out of the chorus, groups and soloists come to the middle of the stage and perform songs, both contemporary and traditional, about the Great War. Large screen projections of relevant images throughout the evening greatly enhance the audience’s understanding of the story unfolding before them.