Thursday, 18 October 2018

REVIEW: The Trench at the Southwark Playhouse



The Trench, first performed back in 2012, is in London for the first time – fittingly in time to commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War.

Les Enfant Terribles have become one of the most respected and innovative theatre companies in the UK, earning rave reviews, award nominations and selling over 90,000 tickets for their immersive Alice’s Adventures Underground and more recently, a sell-out run of the absurdist and brilliant Flies at the Edinburgh Fringe.

This production carries many of the familiar hallmarks of a LET show; mesmerising puppetry, intricate set design and original music played live throughout and the cast of 5 are incredibly talented with newcomer James Hastings really shining as he glides effortlessly between a number of instruments. 

As with many of their other works, they do really well to create the world of the play and Samuel Wyer’s design is spot on for this show. The set offers the performers flexibility and space to weave in and out of the story and there are many flashes of beautiful movement throughout this 65 minute piece.

Unfortunately despite the talented cast and beautiful original music by Alexander Wolfe, The Trench doesn’t have the same effect or impact as their previous work, which is surprising given the emotive and topical content of the piece. The show is based on the true story of Miner William Hackett and is told through an extended poem written by Artistic Director (and lead actor) Oliver Lansley. The lack of dialogue between the characters and the narrator like delivery makes it hard for the audience to fully engage and empathise with the central character and you end up being left more impressed by the devices used to tell the story than the content itself. 

For a one act production, there were some unexpected lulls in the pace and this
only further highlighted the lack of investment and engagement with the story and characters. At the half way point, there was a beautiful moment between Hackett and young miner Thomas Collins which showed the development of their relationship effectively using mime and contemporary movement. This was utterly captivating and with more insight into the characters and their relationships this would have made The Trench a far more rewarding and moving experience.

In the end this was a production of promise executed by a very strong and talented company but let down by an underdeveloped script which was lacking heart.

Review by Andy Edmeads 

Rating: ★★★

Price of Ticket: £20 


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