Dulce et Decorum Est: The Unknown Soldiers at theSpace Triplex is one of several productions set in wartime at this year’s Fringe, so what makes this one different?
It is the story of two strangers who meet during an air raid in London in 1941. Ellen is a young American Red Cross nurse who is volunteering in England; Tommy is a man who lived through the horrors of the Somme in 1916. They share their stories; Ellen’s English boyfriend is on active service in Europe, she hasn’t heard from him for a few months, and no has no idea if he is alive or dead. Tommy tells of how all the eligible men (and some who were underage) from his town volunteered to join up in 1915. Like many young men at that time, they “couldn’t wait to get out there”, thinking it would be an adventure and they would become heroes. As Ellen and Tommy share their stories, along with some secrets, they discover a connection which will bind the two of them together.
I have to admit I found the story-line and its outcome a bit obvious, but what lifted this production out of the ordinary was the extraordinary performance from Jan van der Black as Tommy. His portrayal of a damaged man recalling his experiences in the trenches was a very powerful and moving one. Watching him, it felt as though he was truly reliving these memories, and he brought the grim reality of the horror and hopelessness of war to life.
Review by Lisa Sibbald
Dulce et Decorum Est: The Unknown Soldiers
theSpaceTriplex - Studio
Country: United Kingdom - England
Group: Polymorph Theatre with Jan van der Black and Penny Gkritzapi