Edinburgh Fringe 2014
This very young company bely their age in a wonderful hour of group dynamics and woven narrative that shows us the horrors and terrible effects of conflict. They show how new drama is not outwith the abilities of their tender years.
This is the story of a tea tin that starts as a tentative present from young Dan to young Kate. The tin then gets passed into the other 2 conflicts as a metaphor. Dan is off to the War to end all Wars but does return by Christmas – he just forgot to say which one. From there we follow the Garden Gang of London in the war torn 1940’s London. Here we see the cast survive through theft and guile before we find ourselves in Syria. Here a well meaning Brit makes promises that are lost once he returns. Meanwhile the young girl he promised to help and bring to his home awaits medical attention that may never arrive.
This was very well conceived and incredibly well written. Despite being a very young company – they are the youngest I have seen – they demonstrate a mature understanding of the emotions underneath the text. As a group they move as one and the beginning, which starts with us all outside before drawing us into the theatre ensures we are aware of what this performance will entail. It comes as a package that is collective and of a quality that is highly impressive. It is almost as impressive as the moustache sported on one young chap in the middle of the stage as we arrive! (It could spawn its own production). Of course there are a few areas that were not as slick as others but the patchiness allowed you to feel that this was a labour of love rather than the pursuit of perfection.
The clever use of suitcases meant that we were always in the middle of something. These became a visual metaphor and also the physical basis on which people sat and performed. The music that accompanied the performance and also the lighting were pitched very well. The songs of war and of the time evocative of the hope dashed by the reality of conflict.
It is indeed heart warming that any school chooses to throw off the shackles of a standard school play and goes all original. I was delighted that not only was this the case for this young company but they also took the risk to bring it here. It is not just to be applauded but encouraged mightily. They may not be pioneers but they are bucking a trend. The voices of these young actors deserve to be heard and when you listen this Theatre Company have plenty of value to say – both in terms of content and theatrically.
Of course I loved this piece and at a quarter to ten in the morning it is a tremendous start to any day. Unfortunately it has a short run but it left me with a spring in the step as I gaily marched onward.