My War: From Bismarck to Britain and Back

Boy, is this ever a tough sell to a Fringe audience — an epistolary script, performed by three older women, standing or sitting at three music stands. And it’s one of the most compelling things that I’ve seen so far.

The content is a big part of that, no doubt. It’s been said that one of the great truths of politics is that, deep down, most people just want tomorrow to be more like today. Here’s the story of two women who had no real interest in politics, no real interest in war — but events forced them into becoming a part of history. They’re ordinary people in an extraordinary situation, and that’s what makes this compelling stuff. Some audience reviews seem to be complaining that they wish the acting was more theatrical, and that seems to be missing the point to me — these are women who face both the horrors and trivialities of war with a Midwestern stoicism, and the events they witness are more powerful for being understated. Histrionics wouldn’t help this show a bit.

I will say that at times the show seems almost stubbornly atheatrical (is that a word? I guess it is now) — there’s a few simple tech or music devices that wouldn’t have undermined what they were doing, and would have helped provide some more structure to the show as a whole. But for the most part, they erred on the side of simplicity, and that’s absolutely the right decision for this story.

So this is pretty much one of my favorite storytelling shows that I’ve seen in the Fringe thus far, not least because it’s one of the strongest stories. I love going to new places and experiencing things I’ve never experienced, and this was a nice break from the therapeutic confessionals that seem to be making a comeback this year. It’s not going to be as popular as The Pumpkin Pie Show, because in many ways it’s its opposite — but it has a lot more to say, and it says it quietly. In between all of the other hyperactive and histrionic Fringe theatre, swing by Jeune Lune, sit, and listen for an hour. It’s a welcome change of pace.

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