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 for the Fringe@Four performances. Huge red theatre drapes flank each side of the venue with the traditional black backdrop back of stage. Seating is on one level, close enough to the stage that you could rest your drink on it with the overall effect as much cabaret as theatre.
As the audience files into the venue, there’s the sounds of Glenn Millar playing in the background, the stage lit by a solitary spotlight and 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.