THIS travelling band of troubadours quite obviously made up Britain’s magnificent seven during the Second World War, a secret weapon of petticoat power that would undoubtedly have literally upstaged every German back into the sea if any had ever set foot in Britain.

Yes, the Hun might well have come hammering on the door, but once he’d been hand-bagged and brollied a few times by these Boudiccas of the boards, he’d soon have turned tail. By Saint George he would!

This supremely engaging story by actress-turned-playwright Imogen Stubbs charts the trials and tribulations of the Artemis Repertory Company as it tours the length and breadth of the country during the conflict’s six long years.

The Malvern Theatre Players helped with the original production at the Forum in 2003 and have now had a crack at it themselves. And what a fine job they’ve done.

The tale is based on the real-life Osiris Players which toured continuously from 1939 to 1945, presenting 1,500 performances from a repertoire of nearly 40 plays by Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw and Noel Coward.

This thoughtful, stirring work shines a searchlight into quite a few areas. There is tragedy, loss, fear of loss, and the inevitable bereavement. But the dominating factor is the one at which the British excel – let’s all muddle through, hope for the best… and stick two fingers up to horrible Hitler and his hordes.

And speaking of Agincourt’s outnumbered English archers – hence the ‘few’ of the title - Stubbs freely invokes the spirit of the Bard’s Henry V. Without doubt, no one could better personify that unquenchable spirit than the incomparable Sue Lupton as troupe leader Hetty. She is a barn-storming mixture of Dame Margaret Rutherford, Good Queen Bess and Joan of Arc all rolled into one, her stentorian tones bludgeoning everyone into shape. Her performance is consistently wonderful throughout.

However, she almost meets her match with Helen, played by Meg Russell with all the upper class coolness of a double scotch on the rocks.

Hellish Helen is the posh bitch whose snooty nose is so far into the air that there’s almost snow on the end of it. Selfish and class-ridden to a G and T, her world revolves around fags and booze until she discovers that bombs not only level buildings but the human condition, too.

Other fine performances are turned in by Angela Meredith, Sarah Heath, Anna Wishart, Sophie McLellan, Dianne Lloyd and Lucy Fothergill. And Players stalwart Andrew Howie makes his trademark effervescent contribution as the mayor of Anytown.

Meanwhile, Chris Green punctuates the play with the a few well-timed comic moments and Steve Hart narrates with panache. Special mention should also be made of Laurence Astill as Joseph, a Jewish refugee with a penchant for swing-style saxophone.

We Happy Few runs until Saturday (July 7) and the company will also be giving two performances at Brixham Theatre on Saturday, July 14.