This is how Bound by History is described online: “After several years apart, a group of friends reunite and travel to Bulgaria to complete their Professor’s historical research when his health suddenly declines.”
Old friendships and rivalries are renewed as four ex-students of archaeology, devoted to their Professor, who is now in a dementia home, agree to travel back to Bulgaria to find a hidden artefact in a dig before homes are built over the site. But there’s no guarantee that the artefact is there. If they find it, their names will go down in archaeological history. If they don’t, a lot of time, energy and money will have been wasted. The four were obviously thick as thieves back in the day, but a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then. Can they keep their rivalry and personal issues at bay long enough to find the treasure?
This is an extremely well imagined story, in that it takes the fairly standard situation of a reunion of old friends and workmates to see if they still get on, but transports them into the highly original setting of an archaeological dig in Bulgaria. With jobs, businesses, and parental responsibilities to contend with, it’s unsurprising that they get tetchy at times and have to juggle their lives, sometimes at the expense of the others. But it’s a good examination of a group of people working together at close quarters in a controlled environment. Sadly, though, the play did feel a little long, and I thought that many of the conversations lacked depth and drama.
That said, from the acting perspective, I thought this was the best intertwined ensemble performance of all the Flash Fringe shows I’ve seen so far. The four actors – Meg Mayers, Ellis Reynolds, Luis Dias and Katie Blundell – dovetail together beautifully and perform with great trust and understanding of the others. In particular, I thought Mr Dias and Ms Blundell gave first class performances, with superb clarity of diction, stage presence and perfectly placed confidence. That stage punch that Mr Dias dealt out to Mr Reynolds was a stunner!