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The bunker

This set of re-imagining of some classical myths set in the trenches of World War I brings a refreshing take on the suffering, longing and tragedy of war. Billed as immersive, a reference more to do with the proximity of the action and perhaps some drops of soup inadvertently flung at the audience rather than anything participatory or more involving. Nonetheless, the damp, discomfort and smell of the trench is felt. The first of the double bill is Morgana told in a series of short scene and the occasional haunting songs which set out the atmosphere, camaraderie and boredom of the life of the soldiers. This tells the story of the Arthurian legend of Morgana where the soldiers are drawn to this figure and enchanted by her presence, which may or may not be the effect of the yet unnamed post traumatic stress disorder through their involvement in the war. This play has a good balance of  humour, seemingly mundane yet nicely observed dialogue which carries quite a emotional clout.

The second play is Agamemnon, based on the Greek mythological character and once again transporting the characters to the trenches of the Great War. The play intersperse scenes of a wounded soldier and the life of the wife at home waiting for his return. The first half scenes shift time and place and help to sketch out how their life was before and set out the characters. The drama of this play is contrasted against the humour and lightness of the first and the heat of the bunker and the hardness of the wooden bench begin to take its toll as we enter the third hour. It is well written and quite a touching story but as the soup splatters onto me, it gets a little difficult to fully enjoy it.

The performance of the whole cast is great especially James Marlowe as the straight-laced, always upbeat soldier in Agamemnon and has an equally beautiful singing voice as the waif like, young Anne Heathaway lookalike, Serena Manteghi. Overall, the writing and performance  are good and perhaps a slightly different programming and some cushions on the bench will help to increase the enjoyment this competent production.

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