The on-going conflict that has claimed thousands of lives in Ukraine has not been as present in the news as the ever monstrous political headlines. Ukrainian-British theatre company Molodyi Teatr Londo have brought their show All That Remains to Greenside for the Fringe; a verbatim piece primarily focusing on a woman piecing together her memories of her brother who was killed in the war.
Though the show is described as documentary theatre, the attention is more on the aftermath of loss caused by war, and of coping with the memories it imparts. A recurring theme of the show is the reduction of whole lives to admin. Papers are shuffled around into folders that supposedly sum up each soldier who lost their life. It is a moving image to see the deeply personal mix with the inescapably practical. The performance is cut, for the most part, between a woman recounting the story of learning about her brother’s death and remembering him. With flashbacks to the brother filming himself with a touch of gallows humour (“Before I go let me show you the beautiful winter one last time”), and psychological interviews with a woman tasked with the job of filing all of the lives into folders.
The parts of the interview that they perform are moving, but they lack a coherent narrative, and consequently, it is difficult for the audience to become emotionally involved. None of the performances are particularly heart-rending on their own, and some pass under the radar, such as one actor who by the end of the performance had not spoken much but been unexpectedly killed twice. There are thought-provoking lines and scenes though, such as one in which the bereaving sister complains of the competition for grief among those who have lost loved one, as opposed to coming together to be supportive. It may be that All that Remains serves its creators and those with a personal connection to the themes more than a casual audience, but that is as valid a reason to make a 45-minute show as any.