Brighton FringeDramaReviewSouth East

BRIGHTON FRINGE: Pals – Sweet Venues Waterfront 1

Writer & Director: Jason Gerdes
Reviewer: Bethan Highgate-Betts

Cornwall-based theatre company North South Theatre bring their touching World War 2 piece Pals to the Brighton Fringe.

A tale of comradeship, Pals sees three young friends sign up as new recruits after Kitchener’s push in the first years of the Second World War. We follow the three young soldiers from signing up, to doctor’s check-ups, goodbye parades, right through to the trenches themselves. Seeing their enthusiasm and bravado fade, while the love and friendship they share goes from strength to strength.

A brave take on the story of an army recruited through false promises and propaganda. Written by first-time playwright Jason Gerdes, the script although often funny, is also heartfelt and at times heart-breaking. Gerdes, who also appears in the show, plays with time, skipping forwards and back across the characters’ timelines with powerful effect.

Familiar propaganda posters decorate the theatre and the backdrop of the trenches comes to life through backlighting that brings the horror of explosions to life. Pre-recorded gunfire and distant shouts play throughout the action scenes and can get a bit repetitive as it seems to play on a loop, but the addition of the accompanying live drum makes for a more immersive effect.

The direction can occasionally feel a little clumsy and the staging muddled – although this could be due to space restrictions. However, the four strong performances make this an endearing and tender look at wartime friendships.

Runs 16 May 2017 at Sweet Venues Waterfront 1  |  @brightonfringe

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