Soldier Box is a new play brought to this year’s Fringe by New Celt Productions, a company that amalgamates the talents of both Queen Margaret and Napier university's recent graduate students. Based on the book of the same name by Joe Glenton, this piece takes on the heady subject of one man’s real-life account of fighting in Afghanistan and his struggle with the events that unfold. As he wrestles with his guilt over what he has seen, we hear an honest and emotional account of his decision to leave his post and escape to Thailand, no longer able to stand behind a war he’s realised he doesn't support. This harrowing story examines the uncomfortable, dark side of the mental effects of war and violence.
The combination of some very strong acting, a well written script, and Lewis-Smith's determination to stay true to his subject matter make this a great piece of theatre.
The small cast of five, with all actors other than the two leads playing multiple parts, uses a simple and movable set, music, voice over clips, and choreographed abstract movement to examine this complex narrative. This play doesn't just deal with the effects of suffering post traumatic stress disorder on both the protagonist and those around him, but also looks at the wider commentary - just what affect did the war in Afghanistan have on the soldiers, people and politics of Great Britain?
The performances in this piece are strong, for the most part. The versatility alone from the supporting cast should be applauded. However, at times it was clear that this show was a stretch for some. As Clare, Joe's wife, Cassie Gaughan started this opening performance perhaps a little timidly, but quickly got into her stride and believably portrayed a young woman dealing with the complexities of mental instability in the man she loves. However, highest praise must go to Lachlan Lewis-Smith, who not only adapted and wrote the play himself, but also created a powerful and believable lead role which he delivers both respectfully and honestly.
During this performance, we were lucky enough to have Joe Glenton himself present. Glenton seemed truly impressed, which helped give a great show an undoubtedly authentic touch.
The combination of some very strong acting, a well written script, and Lewis-Smith's determination to stay true to his subject matter make this a great piece of theatre. This sentiment seems to be echoed by the support and praise of the writer of the original story. For this group of young actors, it doesn't get much better than that!