The Bunker Trilogy: Morgana
Opening to a jolly Christmas Carol singsong, Jethro Compton's take on the traditional Arthurian legend marks a vastly different tone from the bleaker morbidity of Agamemnon and Macbeth.
Instead of treating the audience to horror and fear, we are welcomed into a camaraderie of amiable jossling between a trio of fast friends. It's a welcoming atmosphere tinged with the slightest hint of bittersweet sadness, as the soldiers, fashioning themselves Gawain, Arthur and Lancelot, after an old schoolboy lark, joke, jape and wind each other up in equal measure.
As is clear with all three of the Bunker plays, the characteristic role reversals are handled beautifully by the actors, this time with Dan Wood, standing as the commanding presence, as Arthur, with Sam Donnelly's relaxed and cool Lancelot ever at his side and James Marlowe the slower-witted but fiercely loyal Gawain.
Thrown into the mixture are the loves of each men's lives. Arthur's betrothed, Gwin, secretly longed for by Lancelot and the mysterious Morgana, bewitching Gawain with an innocent kindness and curiosity. As with the other plays, the script by Jamie Wilkes is a brilliant, rapid-fire engagement of witty banter, played out with aplomb by the cast. It's rare to find theatre which manages to steer so capably and believably between tears and belly laughs with no hint of effort.
It's worth noting that while this is very much the 'boys story' of the Bunker trilogy, Serena Manteghi's presence is never wasted, even in simply standing at the side of stage quietly whistling a haunting melody, she commands as much attention as Marlowe, Wood and Donnelly. However it's the story of these three brothers in arms that takes the centre piece of this production, in a play that shows that the strongest drama and most captivating story can be found in the simplicity of a strained friendship.
A truly magnificent piece of theatre, exceptional in every way.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan