A truly emotion packed performance that will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will make you quiver in your seat, but it will also leave you wanting more. Performing for the first time at the fringe, The Grandfathers is a play that indulges in the idea of national conscription in modern times. This is shown through eight young men, Kol, Val, Kost, Stas, Dim, Lev, Sash, and Zhen whose choice was taken and are now forced to fight for their country. The performance investigates what benefits the group thought would come from being in the military (being regarded as heroes) and then crushes these thoughts with the harsh reality.
Despite the strong themes the comedy side of it balances it out, not allowing you to get caught up in your emotions but rather enjoy the performance. The mile-long stares the actors held reinforced the military feel. The action-packed scenes where all the actors were verbal either groaning or cursing, they not only portrayed a military setting but also made it seem like there were more people on stage. However, there were moments where the noise of the conscripts was too loud and made it hard to hear what the sergeant was saying (despite his yelling).
The performance also smartly showed each of the characters individual arcs. Initially displaying all the characters’ varying ambitions and then showing how all their goals start to intwine together the longer they stay in the military. There are also repetitions used throughout like the slogan “train hard, fight easy” or “what makes the grass grow” with every use a new meaning was added to these sayings creating new depths in the story. The actors had great chemistry making the parts where they speak in sync have a chilling effect.
With ground level staging and minimal set with every scene the cast in their use of the stage managed to transform the space into whatever the scene called for whether that was a barrack, training ground or a bus. A downside to the low stage was decreased visibility during moments where actors were on the floor. The performance was very immersive. Their simi circle formations, eye contact and monologues, all created an intimate atmosphere.
Towards the end of the play the flashbacks and flashforwards felt slightly overwhelming because they came from all over the storyline making you lose track of what happened.
Reviewer: Marcelina Kruczyńska
Reviewed: 14th August 2023
North West End UK Rating: