WhatsOnStage Logo
Home link

17 Edinburgh Fringe shows commemorating the centenary of the First World War

Today marks the centenary of the outbreak of World War I, Ben Hewis takes a look at some of the productions at the Edinburgh Fringe that are marking the occasion

1. And the Horse You Rode in On

Charting their last twenty minutes of calm before the call to charge, And the Horse You Rode in On tells the story of ten men pushed to the brink in the trenches of the First World War, and the damage its irresponsible leaders caused.

And The Horse You Rode In On - Paradise in Augustines (Venue 152), Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club

2. Anthem for a Doomed Youth

Fringe legend Guy Masterson has compiled 60 minutes of the finest WWI poetry and accounts from both sides of no-man's land. Including works from Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and Isaac Rosenberg, together with hitherto unknown German poets and moving stories such as Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet On The Western Front and Christmas Truce.

Anthem for a Doomed Youth - Assembly Roxy (Venue 139), Theatre Tours International - Guy Masterson

3. Brotherhood

Brotherhood is a new piece of ensemble writing set in the First World War which follows two sides of a story behind the statistics. We learn how a fictitious family left at home in Blighty deal with seeing their boys sent off to the front, alongside the boys' last few hours in the trenches. Inspired by stories of real soldiers local to the company, the piece aims to challenge our preconceptions of the Great War.

Brotherhood - theSpace on the Mile (Venue 39) , Green Stag Theatre

4. The Bunker Trilogy

The Bunker Trilogy sees three classic legends, Adamemnon, Macbeth and Morgana rediscovered in the heart of the First World War.

The Bunker Trilogy, C venues - C nova (Venue 145), Jethro Compton Productions

5. Dalloway

1923: The War is over. While Clarissa Dalloway prepares a party in Westminster, Septimus Smith is diagnosed with shell shock, and their memories and dreams magically intertwine with those of 15 other disparate souls this hot blue day in June.

Dalloway, Assembly Roxy (Venue 139), Dyad Productions

6. Dear Mister Kaiser

A modern twist on the classic war drama, Dear Mister Kaiser tells the extraordinary true story of Robert Campbell, a British Prisoner of War in WWI, who, after receiving terrible news from back home, takes the unlikely step of writing a letter to the Kaiser of Germany.

Dear Mister Kaiser, Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49), Hour Lot Theatre

7. The Flood

Set in the bloody battlefields of WW1, The Flood recreates the horror of the conflict with an explicit depiction of the slaughter forced upon millions of soldiers. A parallel love story explores the devastating effects on the women that loved those men. As the insanity of the war intensifies, it follows this emerging relationship as it is irreversibly affected by unfolding events. Switching between the visceral horror of war, to an increasingly passionate yet ultimately tragic love affair.

The Flood, Summerhall (Venue 26), Badac Theatre Company / Escalator East to Edinburgh

8. Forever Young

Voices of a shattered generation are brought to life in this collection of poetry, prose, and songs exploring the horror, hope and wit that emerged from the First World War. Personal testimonies, letters and diary extracts are punctuated by popular songs from the era. Music and movement bring the work of Sassoon, Owen, Brooke etc, to the stage.

Forever Young, theSpace @ Symposium Hall (Venue 43), Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

9. Forgotten Voices

Taken from the Imperial War Museum's oral testimonies of the veterans of World War One, Forgotten Voices is a series of vivid accounts of battle and its terrible aftermath. These accounts are recited by actors, based on the best-selling book Forgotten Voices of the Great War by Max Arthur.

Forgotten Voices, Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33), Pleasance and Nick Brooke Ltd

10. The Greenville Ghost

What would you do with a failing hotel? Young hoteliers Charlie and Edith decide to invent a ghost: a World War One soldier, who may or may not have been a conscientiously objecting Quaker, with a handlebar moustache. This satirical farce from veterans of the acclaimed York Drama Barn looks at the consequences when stories take on lives of their own.

The Greenville Ghost, C venues - C nova (Venue 145), ​Queen Jane Productions

11. The Hardybutts Boys

Little Giant Theatre Company presents a commemorative adaptation of true stories from the Great War. Follow a group of lads from Hardybutts on their remarkable and eye-opening journey to the frontline, testing their fortitude and character when they find themselves trapped in a hopeless situation.

The Hardybutts Boys, Paradise in Augustines (Venue 152), Little Giant Theatre Company

12. It's All About George

In 1914 George joined the war. A year later his parents received a letter informing them that he was dead... This performance, based on a series of letters written in WWI, explores our relationship with the past and the value of archival material.

It's All About George, Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters (Venue 272), theatre moyenne / Free Festival

13. McAlister in Wonderland

McAlister is a young cadet stuck in the trenches of the First World War when suddenly a puffin runs past. McAlister follows the creature and escapes the traumatic horrors of the war by entering his own imaginary Wonderland. A light-hearted production intended for family viewing, using songs from the First World War.

McAlister in Wonderland, theSpace on the Mile (Venue 39), Theatre Presto

14. Oh! What a Lovely War

Oh! What a Lovely War juxtaposes music hall routines, song and comedy with stark projections of life in the trenches. Real songs from WW1 cheerfully condemn bloody slaughter while harsh images of war and shocking statistics remind us of the scale of the horror, pity and waste of human life.

Oh! What a Lovely War, Broughton High School (Venue 207), Captivate Theatre

15. Private Peaceful

Winner of the Blue Peter Book of the Year, Private Peaceful is by former Children's Laureate Michael Morpurgo, award-winning author of War Horse. Private Peaceful relives the life a young WW1 soldier awaiting the firing squad at dawn. During the night, he looks back at his short but joyful past growing up in Devon, his exciting first days at school, the accident in the forest that killed his father, his adventures with Molly, the love of his life, and the battles and injustices of war that brought him to the front line.

Private Peaceful, Underbelly, Bristo Square (Venue 300), Scamp Theatre

16. SmallWar

1914, a field dressing station behind the front lines. A nurse, maintaining watchful vigil over patients as fragments of past wars lurk within the shadows. From the creators of BigMouth, SmallWar tells the story in the words of those who were there and led the way, and crucially, those who followed.

SmallWar, Traverse Theatre (Venue 15), SKaGeN, Richard Jordan Productions, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Big in Belgium

17. Woodbine Willie

A moving and heart-warming true tale of Woodbine Willie. A chaplain sent to the trenches to share his faith and his fags, using theatre, music and poetry of the day.

Woodbine Willie, Edinburgh Elim (Venue 132), Searchlight Theatre Company