Fringe theatre in Dubai got off to a flying start recently with the inaugural Fringe@Four performance at Warehouse Four.
The Fringe@Four series is an initiative from local event venue Warehouse Four who, over the course of the year, have lined up some of the best acts from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to perform in Dubai.
David William Bryan’s award winning Edinburgh Fringe play ‘In Loyal Company’ was the first show to hit the stage and what a way to start!
Even before the play started the scene was set, in no short part thanks to the amazing pop-up theatre that Warehouse Four have created. Huge red theatre drapes flanked each side of the stage with the traditional black stage backdrop. Seating was on one level and close enough to the stage that the overall effect was as much cabaret as theatre.
As the audience filed into the venue, sounds of Glenn Millar were playing in the background with the stage lit by a solitary spotlight, empty save for a large wooden trunk. Yet from the moment Bryan walked on, he occupied the stage as if it were a terrace house in Liverpool – or an ocean, a desert, a prisoner of war camp. The result was mesmerizing, enabling the audience to believe they were actually there and not watching an actor on a baron stage in a pop-up theatre.
Today, when we think of World War II you’d be forgiven for thinking there’s not much that we don’t already know. But ‘In Loyal Company’ isn’t simply an historical war piece, it’s a also a tremendously human story. From the opening to closing scene, the audience was help in anticipation, wanting to know what happened next, whether Bryan was on board ship to Singapore or in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in the heart of the Thai jungle.
That the play works on many levels is testament to several things. From the writing, through to Bryan’s powerful performance as well as the simple, yet highly effective lighting and audio cues, the audience was engrossed for the full 60 minutes. Equally enthralling was at the end of the show, when Bryan addressed the audience to confirm this was indeed the true story of his great uncle and the sacrifice he made for his country.
If this is an indication of the caliber of the Fringe@Four performances to come, then roll on the next one.