The Bunker Trilogy: Agamemnon

From the bright sunshine and greenery of the Botanic Gardens, we file into a narrow-boarded corridor. Shuffling single file, we enter a dark, cramped and smoky room. We find our seats, tentatively. There's a soldier sitting there. Right there, half a meter from our faces.

This room must be the size of a shipping container at most. As our eyes adjust to the gloom, we pick out the hessian sacks lining the walls, the close ceiling, the radio and uniforms. Grimy stairs lead up into the light. We have entered a World War One bunker.

BANG! And the play begins.

Agamemnon is one chapter in The Bunker Trilogy, directed by Jethro Compton and written by Jamie Wilkes. Each of the three plays reimagines a famous legend in the trenches of the First World War. The others are Macbeth and Morgana, which is inspired by Arthurian Legend.

As it goes, in this legend, a returning soldier, shell-shocked and injured, is murdered by his abandoned wife for betraying her.

Photograph of main character looking pensive

As contemporary as it was in Ancient Greece, the legend of Agamemnon asks us to consider how the traumas of war affect people – those who fight and those who are left behind. And to ask what would be different if those soldiers never left.

I saw Morgana during its sold-out run at Adelaide Fringe 2014, and it was the best show I saw that year. So I was really excited to see another.

Agamemnon does not disappoint. The compressed space and chilling sound design creates an oppressive atmosphere, which is integral to the play's impact. Explosive action punctuates rapidly-changing scenes, where two seemingly irreconcilable times in a couple's lives are woven through each other.

All four players shine. They work through the complexities of the situation in a way that never gives a clear line between good guys and bad guys. They're just people. People get hurt, and make choices that hurt others.

This is powerful theatre. The atmosphere is inherently heavy, though, so the story would benefit from some lighter moments to offset the shade. For this reason, I prefer Morgana and knocked off half a star.

Do yourself a favour and get along to at least one of The Bunker Trilogy this Fringe. They are unforgettable.

★★★★½

For show times and to book tickets, see the Fringe guide.