Sneak Preview Review: THE TWO WORLDS OF CHARLIE F.

by Lynn on February 27, 2014

in The Passionate Playgoer

The Two Worlds of Charlie F.

At the Princess of Wales Theatre until March 9.  Written by Owen Sheers. Directed by Stephen Rayne. Based on an original concept by Alice Driver. Designed by Anthony Lamble. Choreography by Lily Phillips. Sound by Colin Pink. Lighting and projections by William Reynolds. Starring: Gareth Crabbe, Stewart Hill, Cassidy Little, Daniel Shaw, Stephen Shaw, Maurillia Simpson, Chris Ward, Ashleigh Young.

As the play is described it’s a soldier’s view of service, injury and recovery. Charlie F. is really Charlie Fowler, a Canadian who joined the British Marines on a dare; and on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan had his right leg blown off below the knee by an IED—an improvised explosive device.   The Two Worlds of Charlie F are his world of dealing with his wounds; recovering; coping with the after effects; nightmares, drugs, trauma, and the other world, the real one of the ordinary people who could never understand what happened he was experiencing.

The impetus for this show was workshops for recovering soldiers—both men and women–using drama as therapy to exorcise their demons. Along the way the show developed into a two act play using both the real recovering soldiers whose stories were the basis for the play and professional actors. The resulting play had a very short run at the Haymarket Theatre in London and went on to play the Edinburgh Festival winning an award from Amnesty International. It’s now on an international tour and part of the Off Mirvish season.

It’s often moving to hear the stories of these recovering soldiers. But recovery through drama therapy and offering the ‘play’ as theatre for paying customers are two entirely different things that are worlds apart. Not to diminish what these men and women went through, but as theatre it’s not good enough. No effort is made to include the audience into the secret world of the military short form: IED, A and A soldier for example. The soldiers aren’t actors and while they are microphone that just means that their mumbling of their lines is amplified. A story told in a monotone by the person who experienced it is not as effective as an actor who understands how to tell a story effectively, with shading, nuance and emotion.

Full review on Friday, Feb. 28 on CIUT FRIDAY MORNING 89.5 fm.

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