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The Tin Ring – Summerhall, Edinburgh

Director: Mike Alfreds

Reviewer: Andrew Latimer


Tin Ring

The Tin Ring

We’ve had almost 70 years to articulate the trauma of the Second World War. All mediums of art have grappled with the infinite pain endured by millions; more commonly we’re used to seeing visceral, gut-wrenchingly immediate theatrical pieces or achingly scored feature films. These portrayals are reduced to a solo narrative in Jane Arnfield’sThe Tin Ring: a heartfelt, studied retelling of the life of Zdenka Fantlova and her tortuous passage through hideous Nazi camps (concentration, labour, extermination).

Arnfield and her creative team have spent vast amounts of time in research and development, speaking with Fantlova at length, involving her every step of the way. They have considered historical material, personal accounts and evidence of the Third Reich to identify the depth of anguish. Arnfield presents many extracts from Fantlova’s life, using 1936-46 as her timeline, completely immersing herself in minutia to transport us, back in time, to both the euphoric escapism of love and the muddy, destitute conditions of the camps.

Arnfield’s performance is truly sensational, at once authoritative over every detail while remaining compassionate, humble and affected. This Fringe has seen many staggering solo performances but this must be up there with the best, utterly engrossing, and of course hauntingly tragic that it is based on real lives and real people.

While dramatically faultless, there’s a niggling feeling that these stories, while horrific, have indeed been heard. Fantlova’s is not an untold story, but certainlyThe Tin Ringdetails a brutal, incalculable life which Arnfield has realised with majesty and authenticity. It makes you wonder however, what unheard stories still exist and have yet to reach us? Fantlova’s reminds us how destructive the War really was and how it has wounded us for generations.

Runs until Sun 25thAug

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