Perhaps the ugliest notion of war today is its apparent omnipresence. It’s actually hard to even pinpoint and define, as cybercrime and economic sanctions play equal roles in continuing imperialism and escalating modern conflicts. It’s also why visual theatre – an art-form with the capacity to immerse like few others – is so successful at mirroring back to us the horrors of combat. Tortoise in a Nutshell have revived their 2012 Fringe hit to remind us of the darker side of human nature, as Amy rummages through the possessions of her late father: a wartime photojournalist.
Told through stunning object theatre, shadow puppetry and projection, Grit explores extreme childhood encounters with war: from playful games of cops-and-robbers to devastating invasion. As is expected with this talented company, the technical wizardry on display is near-flawless but the story seems to suffer in the same way that last year’s Feral did. There is only one sequence of real magic: a young boy plays in a sandpit as the objects around him turn from buckets and spades to guns and bombs. This frightening vision of war; pervasive, unforgiving, ageless, is the greatest achievement in an otherwise intelligent piece of visual theatre. However, if Grit focussed more on the journey of its protagonists, as in The Last Miner, the political outcome would carry even more clout.