REVIEW: Blood, Fear, Courage, Colchester Fringe Festival ✭✭✭

Paul T Davies reviews Blood, Fear, Courage presented as part of the Colchester Fringe Festival.Blood Fear Courage

Blood, Fear, Courage.
Mercury Theatre, Colchester Fringe Festival
19 October 2023
3 Stars
Colchester Fringe Festival

Courage indeed. This is the testimony of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the feeling from war by Elena Samofalova. She stands on stage, reading from her script, a real refugee, raw and emotional and truly authentic. It’s clearly difficult for her, but this is a tremendously brave act.

Interwoven into her account, actors Lloyd Shankley and Claire Walkinshaw reenact key moments, from the calm and denial that Russia would ever invade, through the devastating realisation that the country is under attack, and the journey to the UK, leaving Vasily, her partner, to join the Ukrainian forces. The rising fear is portrayed beautifully, as is the frightening journey to Poland with her two small children. As promised, Elena looks at Big Ben upon her arrival, and records the time and begins the countdown until they meet again.

In many ways, this is a typical fringe show, a bare stage and three chairs, and minimal props, the story itself being the focus. To that end, the piece is mainly an audio experience, and lacks a certain amount of theatricality. However, director James Jarrett has shaped the material into a compelling hour, and, obviously, it thrums with deeply moving experience.

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