[2014011] The Bunker Trilogy: Morgana

[2014011] The Bunker Trilogy: Morgana

Jethro Compton Ltd @ The Bunker

4:00pm, Sat 15 Feb 2014

Standing in front of the bar in The Bunker, I felt like I was at the party of a friend’s friend: there’s a whole heap of familiar faces there, a lot of nods of recognition, but only a handful of people whose names I remember (Shelley and Nicole and Peter and Hettie). And then I notice Jethro Compton chatting with a small group of people in the corner, and it’s then that I realise that The Bunker Trilogy is being presented by the same crew that brought us Belt Up Theatre’s excellent pieces two years ago: The Boy James and Outland.

And suddenly, far from treating this as an exploratory mission to determine the potential quality of the Trilogy, I’ve mentally committed to seeing the set; Belt Up’s curious take on theatre in-the-round had me hooked.

So it was no real surprise to be led into The Bunker’s performance space to discover that it also provided seating on all four walls, with the focus being the centre of the room; more surprising was the fact that a realistic World War I bunker had been created within, rough wood and hessian walls smeared with gritty charcoal, and soft soil providing a thick carpet, an earthy smell dominating the ambience.

With lights held low (and occasionally flickering with the sound of shelling rumbling in the background), three young soldiers inhabit the space; friends since childhood, they are the last three survivors of the thirteen that originally modelled themselves after the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. And, as Arthur, Lancelot, and Gawain verbally jostle each other (both good-naturedly and with snark), the impact of the war around them becomes evident.

Gawain – the most naïve and innocent of the three men – is convinced that he repeatedly sees a girl walking in no-man’s-land, the territory separating them from their enemies. The mythology of the titular Morgana is introduced, with the three men interacting with (and being distracted by) a girl from the local town, Gwen, and the Mystery Girl… but it’s never really made clear who is real, and who is limited to the imagination.

And that, for me, is just bloody brilliant. Morgana is a play that takes Arthurian legend and blends it seamlessly with the war-like setting, pitching man against man (the fight scene is really impressive, especially given its setting in the round), and giving ample reward to those prepared to have a think about their theatre. There’s little to fault in this production, save the dirt to be found on some of the seats, and you can be sure that – even without my little OCD ticks – the other performances in the Bunker Trilogy are on my list.

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