Pushing Up Poppies
Hill Street Theatre
Four British soldiers sit in silence in a bleak, mud-filled trench; as they begin to chat, it becomes clear that their sanity and even their memory for each other's names have begun to lapse.
Piece by piece, they begin to open up to each other and we get an inkling of their personalities. It takes its time to get going, with the opening introductory gambit feeling too bizarre to really drag the audience in. Once the characters are established, the play is well realised in a vaguely absurd manner that seems all too real for men in such harrowing situations. The play covers several days and nights, although the format is staged so as the passage of time becomes as unclear to the audience as it is to the starving and increasingly confused soldiers.
It's a well acted production, with good staging qualities and a professionalism about the whole endeavour that I've come to expect from Fringe fare at Hill Street. However the play is simply too long and meandering, and when the inevitable ending takes place it feels like it ought to have happened earlier in the story, despite a cleverly ouroborian finish.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan