A Brave Face

Vamos Theatre, in co-production with Mercury Theatre, have created a truly gorgeous piece of mask theatre looking at the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder. A Brave Face looks at the life of one young man, as he sets off to Afghanistan, and his subsequent problems re-adjusting to civilian life.

A Brave Face is a truly brilliant piece of mask theatre and is very sympathetic to the men and women returning from combat.

Rachael Savage, the writer and director of A Brave Face was inspired by a story of an ex-member of the armed forces hiding in a wheelie bin. We start with James Greaves, the main character, at home with his mum and younger sister. James is then recruited, with his friend, and sent to Afghanistan where he turns 18 and ends up connecting with a young Afghan girl. The silence of mask theatre is so appropriate at this point in the play, because the language differences would mean that in real life the only way to communicate would be through gesture. When James returns home, we watch him try to live his life, while being haunted by his experiences in the army.

This production is a powerful and moving piece of mask work, but it has a lot of humour to it as well. The interactions between the siblings and the training sequence had the audience laughing out loud; this humour allowed the audience to care about the characters’ journeys. The story is well-paced and extremely clear and even the manual moving of the set, which consists of military mesh and projection, does not slow down the production. The physicality of the actors is natural, diverse and expressive. The actors were impressively able to show complex emotions with the full masks on to such an extent, that you assume that the masks themselves have expression.

A Brave Face is a brilliant piece of mask theatre and is very sympathetic to the men and women returning from combat.

Reviews by Kat O'Dougherty

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The Blurb

Afghanistan: 2009. Ryan is there to see the world, learn a trade, get a life. Training's complete, combat is a buzz. But on one particular hot and desperate tour of duty, Ryan sees things he can’t talk about, to anyone. And when he returns home, the trouble really begins. 'A Brave Face' explores post-traumatic stress, an unseen and often unrecognised injury of war, and the impact it can have on even the closest of families. With compassion and fearlessness, Vamos brings its trademark, wordless, full mask style to a story that needs to be told.