You need to brace yourself if you visit the Opera House in Manchester this week. The Two Worlds of Charlie F is a night of theatre you will never forget.
Conceived by executive producer, Alice Driver, the play was forged from the experiences of war veterans who sustained serious injuries on the battlefield. With a cast consisting of the war veterans whose stories are brought to the stage, the play achieves something quite remarkable.
The production is at the same time, in-your-face and hardhitting, touching, gut-wrenching, shocking and funny.
You will experience every emotion as you are taken on a journey through the build up and aftermath of the soldiers’ engagement in the Afghan conflict to their battle for survival as the they attempt to adjust to life at home. The play also deals with the impact of the war on the soldiers’ loved ones.
Winner of Amnesty International’s Freedom of Expression Award, the play was initiated as a theatre recovery project and work placement for serving wounded, injured and sick (WIS) military personnel. It’s the first time a theatre company has been given access to wounded soldiers.
Written by award-winning poet and playwright Owen Sheers, it is performed by soldiers and veterans as well as professional actors with a that cast includes Bombardier (Rtd) Gareth Crabbe, Rifleman Darren Swift, Lance Corporal (Rtd) Maurillia Simpson, Corporal (Rtd) Steve Shaw and Lance Corporal Ashleigh Young.
The story is told through brilliantly crafted and powerful drama, comedy, song and a beautifully moving dance sequence.
And the quality of the the performances are superb, with Marine Cassidy Little, who lost a leg below the knee in his second tour of Afghanistan, delivering an incredible portrayal in the title role of Marine Charlie Fowler.
But it is difficult to single out anyone from such a strong cast which also includes professional actors: Lily Phillips, Miriam Cooper, Owen Oldroyd, Terri Ann Bob-Baxter, Tom Colley, Tomos Eames and Venetia Maitland.
This week might be the last chance to see this play in the UK so whether you are seasoned theatre-goer or have never been to the theatre before, a visit to the Manchester Opera House is well recommended.