The Wheel (4 stars)

This article is from 2011

The Wheel

Innocence lost in war-torn Spain

When we think about war, it is the civilian casualties or soldiers who lose their lives we remember. The children whose innocence is stripped from them, observing the horrors that surround a war zone rarely, if ever, get a mention. In the west, we worry about how video games and inappropriate television affect a developing mind. But what if those images are taking place on your doorstep, and pressing the off switch is not an option?

This latest work by Edinburgh-based playwright Zinnie Harris looks at the impact violence and deprivation has on the youngest members of society. And although she has chosen a more magical than gritty realism to explore this, her message remains the same – it does unimaginable damage.

Harris sets The Wheel in late 19th century Spain, but there’s a timeless and placeless quality to it that makes you feel it could be happening anywhere, anytime. The poverty, lack of supplies and simple living that accompanies a major conflict dominate everyone’s lives. But as the war gathers pace, and central character Beatriz is forced to leave her home to return a lost child to its father, the cost to those living in, not killed by, war really comes to the fore.

Recognising her compassion (or more importantly, her gender) three people looking to off-load children place them in her care. Beatriz, by her own admission, ‘doesn’t really like children’, but somehow rises to the challenge, traversing the shattered towns and countryside finding inventive ways to feed her ‘family’.

Catherine Walsh is extraordinary as the quick-witted and intelligent Beatriz, backed by a strong ensemble cast of 14, and astute direction by Vicky Featherstone. Deciphering what’s magical and what’s real isn’t always obvious, but this is a small distraction in an otherwise engaging and thought-provoking work.

Traverse Theatre, 228 1404, until 28 Aug (not 22), times vary, £17–£19 (£12–£13).

The Wheel - promotional trailer

The Wheel

  • 4 stars

Directed by Vicky Featherstone. Beatriz and her sister Rosa are preparing for Rosa's wedding. Their world is turned upside down when the groom arrives, pitchfork rabble in tow, to occupy their farm. A lost little girl stumbles into their world, looking for her father. In a moment of determination, Beatrix takes the girl…

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