Edinburgh Festival `99: Theatre Review

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The Independent Culture
Journey's End

Double Edge Drama RocketVenue @Theatre Arts Centre, Venue 16, 0131-667 6666

Tackling this First World War drama in the Fringe, with a mostly very young cast, was fraught with danger - particularly in these cynical, post- Blackadder Goes Forth days. It is a tribute to the commitment and professionalism of this student-based group that they carried it off in a way that was genuinely gripping and moving. An intimate venue helped, inducing claustrophobia and heightening the sense of strain. Most poignantly, the actors were pretty much exactly of the age and, dare one say, class, of the lost generation they portrayed. The exception was the elderly officer, Osborne - "Uncle" - whose compassion and suppressed anguish were beautifully conveyed by Peter Broad. His performance, and a magnificently ferocious but vulnerable Stanhope from Tom Hiddleston, provided the emotional core of the play, but all the supporting roles were given with intelligence and conviction. A pacey production ensured all that suppressed emotion and tragedy did not weigh unbearably on the contemporary audience. Memorable.