This World War II farce is a good choice for a 25-strong company to showcase their talents, with a wide range of roles on show. But if you thought the world of musical theatre does not need another trip to Blighty full of jolly japes, you’d be right. Nonetheless, A Grave Situation is a tired model done well.
A celebration of British tongue in cheek humour and a wartime spirit
The large cast are aged between 16 and 21, and they spent a mere two weeks before the Fringe rehearsing A Grave Situation in this anniversary year of the end of World War II. They perform with energy and zeal. Each actor is talented, but together the ensemble is a force of energetic power. The story feels light, but the actors on stage have heavyweight abilities.
The Wilberforce family, grave diggers from Huddersfield, are recruited to the frontline and must leave behind doting family and friends. They make hopeless soldiers, burying their guns at Dunkirk and missing the last bus home. A brief spell at the gates of heaven and an innovative use of parachutes and toy soldiers later, and they're back in blighty, as if they’ve been to the beach for a day of fresh air.
Written by Tim Norton, and with music and lyrics from Ned Bennett, the show doesn't take itself too seriously. Some moments appear under-rehearsed, but given the cast’s limited time with the material, the outcome is a real feat. The impressive set used by the sharp ensemble slides across the stage, and an amazing selection of period costumes from Simone Jones grace the stage. The wonderful costumes and set made this an unusually visually satisfying Fringe show.
The cast were at their strongest in fast, farcical dialogue. Angela Ashton and Kishore Thiagarajan-Walker were jolly good fun as the frazzled Colonel and his aide, Susie, although her name evades him. Leo Milne and Kirsty Campbell play Chippy and Ethel, two new sweethearts who guide us through this heart-warming wartime romp.
A Grave Situation is another sure success for the Young Pleasance, providing a talented cast with a high-quality production to be part of and a show that left the audience tapping their toes.