FringeReview Scotland 2014
As part of the International Theatre Festival in Glasgow, this young company of actors take us from being young choristers to the action of the Great War. Through song, movement and drama this theatrical foray into the folly of war reminds us of what war is good for.
We begin by listening to the five choristers of the narrative. From their disrobing into the costumes common to the other three actors their personalities are stripped to become the forgotten soldiers of the Great War. From basic training to the gung ho attitude they display just behind the frontline when they receive their first assignment it is their naivety that binds us to their tragedy. A reconnaissance mission that is simple becomes highly complex as they encounter the French resident unable to leave and capture a German who is on their own reconnaissance mission. It leads to their own redesign of their orders that seems to have one inevitable conclusion before we are reminded of the sweet music made by these five singers before war intervened.
The narrative comes in stages and part of the issue at times is keeping up with who is who. This is a mixed sex company mainly playing men so it becomes even more complex. It does, though, have a fantastic story to tell. Filled with drama and the poignancy of youth playing young people who lost their young lives is never lost. It is also important to see something to remind us that Commonwealth games and D Day landings aside this is a centenary worth remembering – throughout the year. As Gaza and Ukraine build new scars it is important to remember why we are wary of launching into new conflicts.
This was a very committed performance. It was brought to us by eight fantastically well rehearsed and beautifully able young actors. Tight, taut and expressive I was bowled over by their ability to switch and take on the humour as well as the drama of the piece. Their a cappella singing was delightful and coupled with their movement and set pieces carried the hour or so along very well indeed.
The set was functional and each and every part of it used to maximum effect. This interaction was particularly useful in the abandoned church. It was great. Unfortunately the acoustics of the South Rotunda did not help things – and this is hardly the fault of the visiting company – and some of the words and sounds were lost.
Overall this was a great performance though the setting was a little less than perfect. I think that as this is this company’s first performance project there is much to commend it and feel that there is a great future for the company. Being part of the Bristol Old Vic is a distinct advantage.