2018 – Dulce et Decorum Est: The Unknown Soldiers

The Great War ended in 1918, and for the 100th anniversary of that ending Polymorph chose to take on a subject that seems universal in the human experience. Many dramatic performances in every medium have been produced in this genre, but as always Polymorph seek to examine the personal and human experience within the broader subject.


Tommy saw his whole regiment wiped out on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916. In 1941, Ellen waved goodbye to her fiance as he left for Crete, two weeks before the German invasion of the island. One night in 1941, Ellen invites Tommy to shelter in her cellar from an oncoming Luftwaffe raid.

The two strangers begin to share their stories. Ellen is curious about Tommy’s nervousness and reluctance to speak of his past. Tommy, in turn is sympathetic to Ellen’s plight, fearing for her fiance trapped in Crete by the Germans’ airborne invasion of the island. Ellen is desperate to know her truth. Tommy is desperate to forget his. Two ends of a single thread begin to unravel, shaping a fateful connection and a shared, incredible destiny. Two strangers, two World Wars, one connection in hope.

Praise for Dulce et Decorum Est: The Unknown Soldiers

Tackling a difficult subject, in typically uncommon fashion, Polymorph were highly praised for a sensitive exploration of two differing experiences of war in this two-hander which saw the welcome addition of Emilie Maybank to the regular Polymorph team:

  • “Jan van der Black and Emilie Maybank are excellent in their portrayals of Tommy and Ellen” – Fringe Guru
  • “[Van der Black] gives a fine and measured performance, in keeping with his previous work at the Fringe” – British Theatre Guide
  • “Emilie Maybank (Ellen) did a wonderful job of capturing and portraying the feeling of being the one left behind” – Time and Again
  • “Watching him, it felt like he was truly reliving these memories” – Southside Advertiser
  • “Jan van der Black gave a powerful and emotional performance. You could truly believe that he had seen the horrors of war” – Time and Again
  • “Moving and thought provoking. Hankies at the ready!” – Audience reviewer

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