Adelaide Botanic Garden – Noel Lothian Hall, Sat 13 Feb
After a couple of critically lauded visits to Adelaide, Jethro Compton’s Bunker Trilogy returns for another Fringe season. Morgana is set in the close-quarters of a Great War bunker, situated somewhere just behind the front lines, at Christmas. It is into the unsettling and terrifying world of war that this tale, inspired by Arthurian legend, takes place. It is a dusty, smoky and dark place, yet it is a place of solace and some brevity in an otherwise harrowing environment.
Three soldiers, Lancelot, Gawain and Arthur, are immersed in an ultimately doomed attempt at keeping their spirits high. Sam Donnelly, Jonathan Mathews and Hayden Wood admirably recreate the kind of stiff-upper-lip banter that one would expect from public schoolboy soldiers. The dialogue is fast-moving and witty, but betrays a significant, darker undercurrent as the play progresses. The small audience, somewhat shoehorned into the cramped bunker, spends an hour and ten minutes as (extremely) close-hand observers of the action. It is riveting stuff.
It’s not simply battlefield horror that is applying pressure; the exposure of deep-seated and hitherto unknown emotion is, perhaps, the real issue. Bebe Sanders, as the ethereal Morgana Le Fey, is the contemporary catalyst for turmoil, while as the virtuous Gwen she is possibly an even more significant influence on the subterranean goings-on. Sanders is excellent in both roles.
The action moves back and forwards in time without any need for costume or scenery changes. The set is striking in terms of its structure, detail and atmosphere. The soundscape is subtle yet evocative. The writing and the delivery by the actors is top-notch. Overall, the various elements do a fabulous job recreating the stifling nature of the mousehole-like sanctuary, and Morgana demonstrates how confinement and brassbound familiarity can breed more than just simple contempt. Extremely impressive.
The Bunker Trilogy: Morgana continues at Adelaide Botanic Garden – Noel Lothian Hall, at various times, until Mon 14 Mar.
Book at FringeTIX on 1300 621 255 or adelaidefringe.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.