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BWW Review: BURY THE DEAD, Finborough Theatre

BWW Review: BURY THE DEAD, Finborough Theatre BWW Review: BURY THE DEAD, Finborough Theatre Finborough Theatre end their series dedicated to the Great War by bringing back Irwin Shaw's Bury The Dead. Directed by Rafaella Marcus and the first London production in 80 year, the piece works as a monumental metaphor to stand up for the truth.

Almost a celebration of existence itself and a direct condemnation of the viciousness of men, Shaw's play sees six young soldiers refusing to be buried. After trying themselves to convince them to lie down and accept their fate, the military enlist the women in the boys' lives to reason with them. The result is an expressionistic and subversive conversation on the beauty of life.

Marcus places the action in and around a grave - which is delineated with black crates and contains real soil - designed by Verity Johnson which becomes a larger symbol for the chains of war. The higher ranks pace nervously around it while the dead are immovable inside, the rest jump in and out trying to make sense of what's happening.

The dirty business of death is made to look especially clean and sleek by the company, the corpses sport crisp white shirts while the grave diggers seem to be coming out from a 21st Century fashion ad. The direction is the central element that drives the metaphor. Marcus brings out Shaw's philosophical context with a more grounded expression, demonstrating that the truth can't be buried for eternity.

The cast, especially the six young actors playing the dead soldiers, are compelling. Their heartfelt deliveries carry the message across as their rejection of burial comes to represent the false promise of peace. They eulogise the smaller pleasures of the world, defying authority and refusing to accept the fate of a war that's not theirs to fight.

Bury The Dead runs at Finborough Theatre until 24 November.

Photo credit: Scott Rylander

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