Much Further Out Than You Thought

Lance Corporal James Randall is sitting in a living room strewn with desert sand and an abandoned maroon beret by the television. A broken soldier, he delivers a sincere and human appeal for acceptance, telling us of his time in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

A well-written and convincingly performed show which reflects on the true horrors of war.

He is a gnarled, ruined man with a wide-eyed stare and difficult, rasping breath. He is so traumatised that it becomes difficult to watch at times. Although Lance Corporal James Randall is fictional, this is a play that is grounded in references to real-life events and news reports, and we've heard similar stories before.

James is talking to his young son, Danny, in an attempt at reconciliation after many years apart. Each excuse or justification must be tailored for a child, adding another layer of pity for the character; not only is he a failed soldier, but we see him as a failed father too. The child-like references are furthered by the toys of war that are scattered around the set. There are paper aeroplanes in the shape of fighter jets and an Action Man paratrooper - the regiment Lance Corporal Randall belonged to.

Giles Roberts is an engaging and focused performer, constantly wired and paranoid, with an endearing humility. The rapid flashbacks to Afghanistan are physically dynamic and show us an entirely different side to James - the part of someone who is intimidatingly capable of killing.

Since we are already familiar with the awful mental consequences of seeing action in a warzone, the play fails to provide a new angle on it. The drama builds well, but the climax is reduced a little because we are able to guess the final reveal from quite early on. However, Much Further Out Than You Thought is a well-written and convincingly performed show which reflects on the true horrors of war.

Reviews by Cara Ballingall

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Performances

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The Blurb

Lance Corporal James Randall left tours of duty in Helmand six years ago. But as he's about to discover, Helmand is still far from leaving him. On Remembrance Sunday he delivers a birthday message to his young son from his living room in London; a last-ditch attempt to reconcile their broken relationship. Surrounded by action figures and boyhood memorabilia, James unfolds a fragmented story where the worlds of civilian Britain and frontline Afghanistan brutally, and catastrophically, collide. Much Further Out Than You Thought shines a different light on the very human cost of war.

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