A small, dark room above a pub in north London has been transformed into a First World War trench on a French battlefield.
Two rows of seats flank a narrow dirt stage with either end closed off with wooden pallets and corrugated iron. Amid the bullets, bombs and fires raging outside the trench together with the periods of eerie quiet it feels at times claustrophobic and safe.
The play opens with Simon (Jack Morris), an Englishman raised in India, cowering at one end so terrified of the battle raging around him that when Buck (Henry Regan), 'cannon fodder' from Ireland, plops down into the trench he pulls a gun on him thinking him the enemy.
Coming from two very different backgrounds there is a lot more to conquer than fear of the grave situation they find themselves in. Trapped and alone with an enemy sniper waiting for them to raise their head over edge of the trench they bicker and bond and bleed.
Fear in Handful of Dust is a tale both about surviving in terrifying conditions but also about two men learning that bravery has different faces and that they aren't quite as different as appearances, backgrounds and first impressions might suggest. It is a poignant, moving and warm tale of human bonding in very trying circumstances and its staging makes it an almost immersive experience.
There is hope in the humanity amid the horror. For a stripped back, un-glossed First World War tale you can't go wrong. Fear in a Handful of Dust is on at the COG ARTSpace until January 9 and is about an hour and 15 minutes long without an interval.