Review: ‘Author, Composer, Soldier-of-a-Sort’

At The Attic, Pleasance Courtyard, Venue 33 – Edinburgh Fringe August 2018

“Tempted to sign your postcards ‘Overwhelmed of Edinburgh’
and the Fringe barely begun? Head up, up Pleasance, up to an Attic where the sweetest,
tender song is being sung…”

Gentle but powerful consummate acting by Jan Carey underpins this poignant reflection on the cost to music, art and humanity by war. ‘Author, Composer, Soldier-of-a-Sort’ leads us from rural Gloucestershire into the battlefields of France at an exquisite pace. This one-woman play is more than the sum of its parts – it becomes music, plucking deep base notes and heavenly strains with a surprising number of shifts of temp in between.

To be introduced to the music and poetry of Ivor Gurney by his devoted friend and pioneering music critic Marion Scott, played by Carey, was an absolute honour. I only had one day off duties at The Fringe before heading south and I am delighted I chose this as my ticket #IntoTheUnknown – the Fringe’s theme this year.

The interplay between words and music rolls out in the rare glory of a slow build to an unrestrained climax during which your heart – if its anything like mine – will crack a little more open. ‘Audacious Mr Astley’ aka Chris Barltrop (also playing at The Pleasance Courtyard) who accompanied me, was equally moved.

I applaud all who have worked with Hint of Lime Productions to bring this to the Fringe. The script is compelling with adroit touches of irony, delivered with the daring to allow the silences to speak between the lines. One word of warning: bring tissues and allow a couple of hours before heading for anything lighter to absorb the full measure of this play’s bittersweet aftertaste.