The Bunker Trilogy: Morgana @ C Nova
It says something about the quality of Jethro Compton’s productions and the uniqueness of his trilogy of bunker-set plays that they have people scrambling for tickets to spend an hour in a dusty, cramped room with sauna-like heat and no natural light. After the intensity of Agamemnon and Macbeth, this reviewer couldn’t wait for the King Arthur-inspired final part and the promise of another immersive theatrical experience.
Morgana is the warmest of the three plays, with the audience welcomed into the trench with Christmas carols sung jovially by three soldiers and old public school friends serving together during World War I. Arthur (Dan Wood), Lancelot (Sam Donnelly) and Gawain (James Marlowe), as they have nicknamed themselves, share a warm camaraderie and their lifelong friendship shines through with each sing-song, conversation and argument. While they work together to keep their spirits lifted and stave off boredom, the spectre of a woman (Serena Manteghi) haunts them.
The third play is less story-driven than its siblings and more a series of time-jumping sketches centred on the friendship, blurring the lines between past and present, the real world and the afterlife where Manteghi’s alluring beauty may or may not be leading the men to their doom. While Morgana’s name sits in the title, Manteghi is given far less to do here than she is in the other two parts. She equips herself well with the little material she is given but has such an arresting presence that you are left wanting more. Fortunately, she has two other performances a day to satisfy. James Marlowe is given a real chance to show his skills as the naïve and dream-filled Gawain, desperately trying to break free of the “baby of the group” label forced upon him.
Enough can’t be said about the detail and atmosphere of the bunker setting. With your back to the wooden walls, you can feel the room shake as the actors scramble across the floor, kicking up smothering clouds of dust with their clunking shoes. Even in the dull light, you can see droplets of sweat drip from the committed actors (as well as a few audience members – do remember to dress lightly and take a bottle of water). Few shows demand to be experienced in the way The Bunker Trilogy does. Morgana offers a warmer emotional experience than its sibling shows, but one no less emotionally affecting.