AFTER the chocolate battles of Pure – a kind of alternative War of the Roses – at Scarcroft Allotment at the outset of summer, Mikron Theatre Company returned to York at the season's close with their other touring play of 2016, Canary Girls.

This was their tenth anniversary visit and as ever the Marsden company played to a Sunday-afternoon full house at Clements Hall. Full because there is not a more consistent theatre practitioner in Yorkshire right now.

This time, they turned the spotlight on the unsung heroes on the wartime home front: the women who worked at the munitions factories, their skin turning yellow from the Trinitrotoluene (TNT) seeping into their skin. Hence they were known as the Canary Girls, such as the Barnbow Lasses in Leeds that Alice Nutter wrote about earlier this year at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Nutter's play was on a bigger scale, but Marianne McNamara's production has a big impact too from its cast of four actor-musicians. It shares a structure with Nutter's work, wherein Laurence Peacock tells the (fictitious) story of two sisters, in this case Rosie and Lizzie, who become shell-workers but then find the new world of money, independence, excitement and political awakening pulling them apart.

Claire Burns and Stephanie Hackett are joined in the cast by James McClean and Matt Jopling, the former playing the local grandee in charge of the girls, the latter sent off to the Front, where shellshock sends him home, deemed a coward in the play's most memorable scene.

Aided by Mikron debutant Laurence Peacock's script and indeed lyrics for folk duo O'Hooley and Tidow's wonderful songs, Mikron skilfully combine humour with political zeal, pathos, romance and danger. All four performers are tremendous, Jopling especially so, their singing and musicianship on guitar and brass a delight, especially in Flowers Of England, a song that could well gain a life beyond this show.