Review
Story added:  5:00pm Wed Apr 16, 2014
Horrors of war told by wounded soldiers
Monday 14th April, 2014 - Theatre Royal, Nottingham
I was gardening at the weekend. As I write this, my back aches a bit from digging, my hands are scratched from pruning, and my leg is bruised where I banged it on a garden bench.

But at least my back is not broken, I haven’t lost any fingers, and I still have both my legs — and my aches and pains didn’t give me a single sleepless night, let alone years of them.

But all of these things and more have been suffered by some of the actors in a remarkable new play that opened in Nottingham on Monday.

The Two Worlds Of Charlie F started life as a project for wounded, injured and sick Service personnel, bringing together the two worlds of theatre and the military, and creating a play based on their experiences.

About half the cast are either serving or medically retired military personnel. Two have no legs, one has one leg, and one has a brain injury. All have thrown themselves into a project that has taken them on a tour, first of Canada, and now the UK.

It’s an astonishing production, described by BBC defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt as ‘the closest you’ll get to the frontline.’

It’s terrifyingly loud at times. Thunderous sound effects leave your heart racing. You never know when the next one’s coming, so you’re constantly on edge, trying to be prepared. It’s horrible — and that’s in the safety of a theatre. Heaven knows what it must be like when it’s the real thing and it goes on hour after hour, day after day, week, after week.

The play is a brilliant and powerful portrayal of the stories of real soldiers — the pain, the anger, the camaraderie, the depression, the medication, the nightmares, the love and the laughs.

The members of the cast work so seamlessly together that it’s hard at times to distinguish between the professional actors and the professional soldiers. It’s perhaps unfair to single any out, but it’s a truly remarkable performance from Marine Cassidy Little (Charlie) who lost a leg in Afghanistan.

He’s a charismatic character who dabbled in acting before joining up, and is now using that skill in a personal tribute to everyone affected by war.

He’s doing just what he and the others were taught in their military training; whatever happens, adapt and overcome. It’s a privilege to have been able to witness a small part of that process.

The production is at the Theatre Royal until Saturday — JJ.
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