fringe: the bunker trilogy - morgana

adelaide fringe: the bunker trilogy - morgana
Having now seen two of the three plays that make up The Bunker Trilogy, I can say that without a doubt it deserves all of the praise already heaped upon it.

But I really shouldn't have expected anything less from director/designer Jethro Compton, who starred in the 2012 Fringe show, The Boy James, which is still a stand out moment from all the shows I've seen.

And writer of all three parts of the trilogy, Jamie Wilkes, does a fantastic job at taking, in the case of Morgana, the characters from Arthurian legend and melding them with characters from the First World War into something that isn't exactly the legend and isn't wholly an original work about three young men in the midst of war.

Not to make too many comparisons back to The Boy James, but the staging reminded me of it... in so much as you're in an enclosed space, with seating all around and the action is happening essentially in the middle of the audience (and in my case, right next to me since we were sitting just next to the cot which was used quite a bit). But unlike The Boy James, the space itself isn't a warm and squishy welcoming space, this is the titular bunker, with wood and hessian walls and a dirt floor.

They also share the fact that the actors are already in character and in the space before the audience... in the case of Morgana, wearing newspaper hats and singing Christmas carols, which eventually they got the audience to sing along with.

The four actors are amazing... Hayden Wood as Arthur, Sam Donnelly as Lancelot, James Marlow as Gawain and Bebe Sanders as Morgana. Wood just has this commanding and appropriately dignified presence... Donnelly is as handsome as you would want a Lancelot to be and as rakish, if a little bit of a bully... and Marlow is bumbling and loquacious as Gawain, simple but sweet (and just as a side note, I hope they manage to repair Marlow's pants, the seam at back kept surrendering a stitch or two at a time throughout both plays which must have been both a distraction and a little bit draughty for him).

Sanders doesn't necessarily feel like she has as much to do during Morgana than she does in the second part of the trilogy, but that could be more to do with the fact that she appears and disappears constantly as the object/s of affection for each of the three men throughout the play... and it feels more like the play is centred around them and their relationship rather than their interactions with her. Which isn't to say that she's not great in her role.

They're all exceptionally fine singers too... it's more snippets of songs here and there rather than full on production numbers, although one of the best and funniest bits is a version of Where Did You Get That Hat.

Of the first two parts of the trilogy, Morgana is definitely the more humorous of the two, but laughing with a character is an easy way to get the audience to connect with them, which works brilliantly for the end of the play. I won't spoil what happens, but I will say that I got a little misty eyed.

And given that it only runs for an hour, it's a perfectly crafted little play.

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