I did not expect any spectacular, show-stopping scenery at the Fringe. There’s a level of understanding that, with limited budgets and generic black boxes to perform in, the audience will have to imagine up some of the setting themselves. However, Jethro Compton Productions has excelled itself with the Bunker Trilogy. The space in C nova has been utterly transformed into a sweltering wooden and corrugated metal bunker, unlike any set I’ve seen at the Fringe or in many touring professional productions. The confines of the bunker, whilst strict and imposing, make it impossible to resist singing Christmas carols in the middle of August with the soldiers. It’s an incredibly warm atmosphere (shed your layers as you go through the door), but also an incredibly intense viewpoint on the fracturing relationship between three old school friends, now comrades in the trenches. What starts as camaraderie ends in isolation, something which is perfectly reflected in the backdrop of the bunkers.
The Arthurian legends, in particular myths of Morgana la Fey, act as the inspiration for the drama, and excellently sum up the eerie enchantment which comes over Gawain (James Marlowe) as he is led to his demise. Whilst the ensemble cast are fantastic, particular mention must go to the relationship between Marlowe and Bebe Sanders, as a local French girl. Their scenes together were delightful, and the audience were drawn into their shared love of escapism. Sanders’s handling of other roles, especially Gwen, was done effortlessly.
Commendation must also go to the score of the piece, handled by Jonny Sims. As Arthur and his companions belted ditties, the music highlighted a further desperate attempt by the men to cling to a relationship. Morgana’s lilting voice haunted the piece throughout, leading to the final sequence which had me watching with a lump in my throat.
It is rare to find such a slick and impressive piece of set design at the Fringe, let of all alongside such a strong cast and a compelling script. The entire experience is a must-see of the Edinburgh Fringe. Morgana will haunt you for the rest of the day. Amongst the insanely large number of plays based around the First World War, Morgana stands out as an amazing piece of theatre.
Morgana is at C nova as part of the Edinburgh Fringe.