Review: A War of Two Halves at Tynecastle Park

Football’s a funny old game. Underneath the often-justified layers of barbarism which critics will papier-mâché it in with colourful tabloid stories, there’s a real emotional connection between fans and players that’s hard to explain and goes far beyond simply kicking a ball into a net.

This wonderful production, returning for a second stint at the Fringe not only captures that connection flawlessly- much like its depicted heroes, it goes above and beyond and gives so much more.

Based on the real-life tale of George McCrae’s Battalion, many of whom tragically lost their lives in the Great War in 1915, a particular focus is on those that played for Heart of Midlothian Football Club. The lead role centres on former player and serviceman Alfie Briggs who we see from the outset struggling to come to terms with post-war life.

Setting plays a pivotal role in the authenticity of the action, and Tynecastle Park doesn’t disappoint by serving up a stunning and unique spectacle for the audience and cast alike. The play moves from stand to dressing room, to a concourse trench scene before closing the 105-minute show with a tear-jerking finale in the stadium’s apt Memorial Garden. This is a Fringe show like no other, magically transporting you from football field to battle field with emotional investment in every cast member. 

A War of Two Halves is an ambitious and truly inspired spectacle. At no point does it feel like a cheap cash-in, or one solely for supporters of the football club in question. It will live long in the memory for anyone that is lucky enough to witness it in all its harrowing glory.

A War of Two Halves, Tynecastle Park, until 26 Aug, 3:30 pm, 6:00pm, 8:30 pm (& 1:00 pm on 24 & 25 Aug)

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