As You Were

As you were takes a deep look into the effects of war. These plays are all too common and not altogether very appetising. This production was however a roaring success. The script focuses around two soldiers from different wars, but with similar trauma. Mike Harrisson, a wonderful actor, plays the role of a true English soldier, taken prisoner and left disillusioned upon his return home. Darren Holland pulls off the role of a modern soldier, returning home after desert warfare. Around the two men, four girls play their different roles, fading in and out of the men’s presence, their acting used to reflect a lost state of mind as well as reveal the effects of war on the family and friends of soldiers. This is a new script, written and directed collaboratively by the cast of six as they emerge from actor training. It is derived from first hand interviews and they have done well to vocalise, through their performances, the words which post battlefield soldiers cannot fully express. The priority of the play is to describe the nature of post traumatic stress disorder. It follows through the shell-shock incident, be it a roadside bomb or four years of Japanese torture and uncoils how it changes the man. It takes into account the experiences during war, the loss of innocence and the inability to cope with life after warfare. While it is thoroughly unsurprising that war leaves broken lives, this show does far better than any others in demonstrating how this is so. When experiences cannot be expressed due to their intense nature, great theatre allows the audience to imagine as best we can what these soldiers go through. It demonstrates the effects of war with comparable effectiveness to “All Quiet on the Western Front”. Throughout there is much in the production to provoke thought, pieces of jigsaw puzzles are constantly dropped over the stage to compliment the script. This element reflects the shattered mentalities that families’ face as well as the loss of innocence and the impossibility to piece it all back together. The soundtrack is superb, from Prodigy in showing the mayhem of the mind in battle, to spine chilling use of the hymn “Abide with me” when reliving loss and horror. This play is essential in understanding the soldiers that return home today from Afghanistan, and while “we weren’t there man”, this piece of theatre opens up a much needed window to their pain. This is a great theatrical success for young talent with great potential.

Reviews by Theo Barnes

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The Blurb

A raw, truthful verbatim piece about the effects of conflict. From war veterans to child soldiers, real words are fused with arresting physicality. An explosive collaboration: Nathan Curry (Tangled Feet) directs graduating students from famous BRIT School.

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