The Grandfathers

What would it be like for young people if national conscription were still part of growing up; to receive the letter giving you time and place to report for 547 days of duty and have your life transformed overnight; to leave the privacy of your bedroom for the shared dormitory; to say goodbye to your parents, siblings, friends and loved ones knowing that you might never see them again. Then, when it's all over, to return hope and pick up your life as though nothing had happened. But can they ever be the same again?

Filled with physicality and emotional intensity

The Grandfathers, from Reconnect Regal Theatre, is the company’s debut production and they have made an impressive start, having just gained a ‘Bright Spark’ Award from Scottish Arts Club that recognises ‘the brightest new talents on the Scottish Theatre scene’. And there’s no shortage of them. A cast of nine just about fits onto the stage; scene set with a unit of soldiers engaging in gunfire with an enemy, sheltered by piles of protective sandbags. The physical battle ends and the Last Post sounds, but it’s followed by stories of personal conflicts and inner strifes combined with the physical demands of army life, the morning muster for training, and the ever-present voice of the sergeant shouting orders.

Each of the eight conscripts contributes a story, a perspective or reflection on life in the army and its impact. The norms of battle are illustrated in contrast to the emotional stress it causes for an individual who cannot bring himself to stick a bayonet into even a dummy soldier, let alone a real-life enemy soldier. A young man’s compassion for an injured bird is ridiculed by the more hardened, who see the creature as an intruder they must be rid of. “We can only look after our own, and he is not one of us.” The bird as metaphor resonates at many levels. Panics attacks, the thought of blood and guts, of being captured and ways of dying haunt the novices. And for what? As one point outs, Roman soldiers often received considerable rewards, but for them there will be nothing. Then, to bring everthing into persepctive, there is the letter to write which, if ever delivered, will mean the worst has happened.

The ensemble cast of Jack Bishop, Lewis Carlyon, Joseph Coyle, Euan Ferguson, Stuart Fraser, Kieran Lee-Hamilton, David Lister, Colin McGowan and Reece McInroy, give performances filled with physicality and emotional intensity in this play by Rory Mullarkey, tightly directed by Pete Sneddon and Sam Stuart Fraser.

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The Blurb

The Grandfathers explores the idea of national conscription if it was still legal as we live now. We see eight young men join up to fight for their country – not through want but through force. The piece examines the different effects this has on the individual young men and how devastating national conscription can be. We follow Kol, Val, Kost, Stas, Dim, Lev, Sash and Zhen through their preparation for the front line and deployment. 'Your country called you up, and you came!'

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