Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"My Grandfather's Great War" - Edinburgh Fringe 2008

The admiration and respect Cameron Stewart has for his Grandfather is clear from the outset, and by the time the hour is up the audience will feel much the same. But this isn't about heroes - although Captain Alexander Stuart certainly was one. It's about what we put ordinary men through.

War is presented here with all its horrors and we are reminded how quickly we forget the lessons of 'The War to End All Wars'. Captain Stewart was clearly a thinking soldier and while that may be what the modern army looks for, it was no doubt a dangerous thing in his time. As a result, for the most part he kept his thoughts to himself and committed them to scraps of diaries which he sent home to be reassembled after the war, and it's these diaries that have provided the material for the show.

Cameron switches between delivering his grandfather's words and providing family and historical background to them. It's a useful storytelling technique and augmented by some startling sound effects and the damp stone walls in Baby Belly 1 he really creates a powerful atmosphere. While there are moments when his 'Johnny Ball' style jumping around start to distract from the focus of what he's saying, it has little impact on the overall effectiveness of the show.

As with "The Factory", it's impossible to really convey the impact of such trauma in a one hour show - and that's probably just as well.

For those who want to know more about Captain Stewart's experiences, copies of the book were available at the end of the show.

My Grandfather's Great War runs at Underbelly's Baby Belly at 2.45pm until 24th August
Image used with permission