Bury the Dead, Finborourgh Theatre

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by Lara Alier

The very first thing we see onstage is a dead body covered with a cloth. Is it a real person? I scrutinise its limbs and every part of its shape. That is the great thing about intimate theatre, that each member of the audience can really focus on small details and have a totally different experience.

This play by Irwin Shaw paints a reality where soldiers refuse to be buried by standing up from their graves. Since soldiers, especially in WWI, were treated like currency the concept gives room to play with politics, economics and social changes.

The simplicity of the set is on point. At the beginning of the play, the war is introduced in the form of a ballad dance. Throughout the rest of the story, a selection of songs such as ‘Swing Low’ are sung by the soldiers. Moments like these really gave the audience a chance to commune with them. The variety of characters portrayed by the two women actors is impressive, so is the playfulness which they find when swapping roles.

The first and second world wars are still very popular subjects to stage. I always wonder why – if we are actually learning from these stories, I would see a reason. But since atrocious wars are still very much on the agenda of our countries, clearly these plays have no big impact. But if you are a lover of war stories with an original twist, this play will suit your fancy.

Bury the Dead runs through 24 November.

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