My Grandfather’s Great War is a powerful and moving one-man show by Cameron Stewart, grandson of Captain Alexander Stewart, who served as an officer in the First World War.
Based on his grandfather’s journals and letters written at the time, Stewart weaves a compelling and at times harrowing account of life in the trenches, interspersed with personal family recollections and his own thoughts & opinions.
Performed in a dank, dark vault in Edinburgh’s Old Town, the grim atmosphere of the front is recreated not only by the surroundings and sound effects, but by Stewart’s energetic and passionate performance. The anecdotes from the war are brought to life effectively and give a glimpse into the hell that men of the time had to endure. This stoic bravery and unflappable sense of duty are what Stewart muses on when out of character and playing himself – with mixed emotions of pride and respect for his grandfather, and incomprehension at the futility and violence committed in the name of king & country.
Tales from the First World War have been told many times in the past, and it is important they keep on being told, not least to make us think how we would have reacted in a similar situation. What makes this particular story different is the personal nature of its telling – best summed up by Stewart reflecting after a particularly gruesome and detailed episode that, had things played out differently, he would not be here to tell it at all.