FRINGE REVIEW – The Trench

*****

Set in and below the trenches of the ‘war to end all wars’, Les Enfants Terribles’ multi-sensory fable is a masterpiece of theatrical storytelling which shows that, no matter how deeply buried, the redemptive light of the human spirit can never be extinguished.

Returning after last year’s critically-acclaimed Fringe debut, The Trench tells the tale of sapper Bert, tasked with inching beneath enemy lines in the constricting tunnels below the battlefield. He befriends young recruit Collins, until devastating news from home and an enemy shell cause his world to collapse around him.

The Trench is expertly staged and beautifully told. Using puppetry, video, music and lyrical dialogue to unfold the tale, the piece delves into the realm of fairytale, with the cleverly-constructed set transforming from battle-scarred dugout to demonic lair with ease. Alexander Wolfe’s live music is a wonderfully lyrical ingredient, his emotional vocals a haunting complement to the action unfolding beside him.

Bert is played this year by Ben Warwick, a more youthful presence than Oliver Lansley previously, but equally affecting. Indeed, his age serves to heighten the piece’s theme of the futility of war; of the young lives snuffed out before their prime.

By the time The Trench reaches its inevitable climax, it has never once faltered on its hero’s journey — and has provided one of the most powerfully moving and well-crafted hours of theatre you are likely to see at the Fringe.

The Trench is at the Pleasance at 14:45 until 26 August.

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