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Home arrow Archive: EdFringe 2013 arrow The Bunker Trilogy: Agamemnon
The Bunker Trilogy: Agamemnon
Published on Wednesday, 07 August 2013

5 stars

C venues - C nova (venue website)
31 Jul, 1-26 Aug, 8:30pm-9:35pm
Reviewed by Jane Bristow

 Family-friendly. Suitable for all ages.

Like many, I was disappointed to see that Fringe veterans Belt Up Theatre were missing from 2013’s line-up – and a little investigation on their website suggests that, for the foreseeable future at least, that’s how it’s going to stay. So far, so bad. But all is not lost; there are some new projects for fans to enjoy, which brings me to The Bunker Trilogy. These three plays, reimagining the legends of Agamemnon, Morgana and Macbeth against the backdrop of the First World War, are all put together by Belt Up’s producer Jethro Compton and writer Jamie Wilkes, and having seen Agamemnon it’s fair to say there are a lot of familiar traits to be found in the production – not least its outstanding quality, on every level.

The atmosphere quickly darkens as soon as the audience file in, finding themselves in a makeshift bunker accompanied by mournful music. There are two soldiers, one of them the injured Agamemnon – who may or may not be dying, building a suspense which lasts right until the end. As he passes in and out of consciousness, the scenes shift effortlessly to memories of his pre-war relationship with his wife, Clytemnestra; and then to her own wartime life, abandoned and trapped alone in a cottage, dealing with personal tragedy with only her husband’s cousin to keep her company. Their mutual resentment on each side becomes obvious, feeding into the building tension of the play, and although there’s a twist at the end the plot echoes the legend – simply giving the characters the depth they need to make it a realistic story.

Although the combination of a Greek legend and the First World War means this is no light-hearted rom-com, it’s much more nuanced than you might expect. There’s a good balance of drama mixed with some gentle humour, which ensures that it remains poignant without wallowing unnecessarily in sadness.

The staging invites the audience to imagine life in trenches, not least because of the cramped space the performance takes place in. By the end you could see sweat pouring off audience and actors alike, a fact which could be a problem if it gets any hotter. The eminently professional cast didn’t even seem to notice, but I certainly did – so wear something cool.

In summary, this is a powerfully immersive production.  By taking advantage of an intimate venue and turning it into what feels like another world, Agamemnon delivers Fringe theatre at its very best. It’s an impressively non-traditional approach that manages to involve rather than alienate the audience. And of course, I will be doing my very best to see the other two plays in the trilogy.

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