FRINGE REVIEW – The Wheel

*****

In the National Theatre of Scotland’s world premiere of Zinnie Harris’ The Wheel at the Traverse, the characters journey through a perpetual and hopeless cycle of conflict, the wheels of war turning with a relentless terror in a thought-provoking and excellently staged production.

Beatriz lives with her sister Rosa, whose wedding celebrations are rudely interrupted by soldiers from the front demanding shelter. As she finds herself in charge of a lost and silent child, Beatriz sets off to reunite the girl with her father; then return to her own family and hope that the conflict around them blows over.

During the course of The Wheel, Beatriz discovers a terrible truth about the child in her care: and finds herself on a journey which seemingly has no end or respite. As she travels through wartorn lands and witnesses atrocities first-hand, Beatriz finds herself at war with her own conscience as her resolve is tested at every step.

With a driving pace and tight direction by Vicky Featherstone, The Wheel keeps on turning during its 90 minutes, helped by an ensemble cast who all put in impressive performances. A set depicting a bomb-blasted interior is well-employed throughout, its two levels used to split the action; and to depict the production’s multi-layered premise and themes.

A thematic thread of the metamorphic nature of butterflies provide some delicately-crafted moments of beauty during the piece; and although Beatriz and her war child find themselves back at the beginning once the wheel has completed a full rotation, the underlying message and promise of hope remains.

A first-rate production turning effortlessly on its well-oiled axis, The Wheel is a challenging, contemplative and beautiful piece from the NTS and a highlight of The Traverse’s Fringe season.

The Wheel runs until Aug 28 at The Traverse; times vary. More details here.

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