An unflinching, immersive WWI drama, staged at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe
This article is from 2014.
Deep in the bowels of Summerhall, we are in the trenches of the First World War. A nurse chops raw liver while a soldier obsessively counts the lice in his uniform. The tiny space smells harsh and metallic, of old bricks and blood. The audience of ten stands around the walls while the two characters, lovers separated by the conflict, address their duties.
This is theatre in the recognisable Eastern European style, a chance for the strong of stomach to bear witness to the monstrosities of a war that took place before we could watch the action streamed live on our mobiles. The noise, the smell of the liver, the thwack as it hits the pillar, the intensity created by a repetitive script and structure bring the individual horror home to every one of the senses.
No sooner have the lovers begun to plan their lives together – town or country? Two children or four? – than the dreaded whistle blows and it’s time to start fighting and chopping again.
This is a relentless 50 minutes and an unpleasant reminder that there are people in their own trenches to this day. These sounds and smells are their reality.
Summerhall, 560 1581, until 24 Aug (not 11), 8.30pm (& 6.30pm 12–24 Aug), £12 (£10).