City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Trench Review

By Alex Eades - Posted on 05 August 2012

Show details
Les Enfants Terribles
Running time: 
Oliver Lansley & James Seager (Directors), Oliver Lansley (Writer), Sam Wyer (Designer), Paul Green (Lighting Designer), Alexander Wolfe (Music)
Oliver Lansley (Bert), Conrad Sharp (Chorus/Soldier 1), Alfie Boyd (Chorus 2/Collins/Guide), Tim Jackson (Chorus 3/Demon/Soldier 2)

They are everywhere. And I have seen my fair share of them. So, when I spied a show in the Fringe guide entitled The Trench, I have to say I had my reservations. Really? Another one? Surely the only way I can see anything different now is to leap in my time machine and set it for Somme, France, 1916.

And 'The Trench'? How long did it take them to come up with that title?

Yet, despite these initial quibbles, I find myself standing outside Pleasance 2 with a ticket in my hand and a song in my heart. Well... maybe not the song.

Set within the trenches of France during the First World War, a group of worn and battered soldiers go through the dirty, daily motions. But when a letter brings sorrow to the broken Bert, a deal with the Devil is made and he must complete a three part test to be reunited with his family.

The funny thing about this show is that it is really not about the trenches at all. Nor is it about the war. It is about one man’s trip to the brink of sanity, pushed to the very edge by news beyond the fields of France. And here in lies perhaps a rather trivial criticism, but one worth another mention: the title. It does not seem to represent the heart of the story and seems quite lazily placed. Because, the fact of the matter is, this show is so much more than your average war story and is worthy of a far superior name.

The central performance by Oliver Lansley as the tortured soldier, Bert, is outstanding. Drenched in sweat and tears, his energy can be felt all around the room, whilst his sanity creeks under the thick, heavy air.

The true star of the show, however, is the imagery. As the story progresses the nightmarish pictures of life in the trenches morph into far more surreal territory. Demons and living walls lurk in the shadows of Bert's mind, beautifully realized by clever puppet work and imaginative lighting. It's quite creepy though, so be wary of taking children of a sensitive nature.

It is occasionally let down by the songs that stutter in from time to time, which were quite distracting and emotionally manipulative. The young man singing and playing the guitar is clearly very talented, but whenever his mournful voice kissed the microphone you really did feel like you were at a Coldplay concert....and who wants that.

Overall though, it was a very powerful and beautifully realized piece, packed with imagination and heart.

Show times

August 1st-August 27th (Not 14th)

Aug 10th-12th, 17th-19th, 24th-26th: 13:10, £12.00 (£11.00)

Aug  6th-9th, 13th, 15th-16th, 20th-23rd, 27th: 13:10, £10:00 (£9.00)

Aug  6th-7th (Two For One)