New wars, same old story

Rules of engagement: Emma Rollason  as Kate Mulligan and John Flitcroft as Jacko.

Pictures: Graeme Braidwood

Wounded

Birmingham Repertory Theatre at the TA Centre Kings Heath

***

WITH Remembrance Sunday just round the corner, this drama featuring two casualties of war separated by nearly 100 years looks at a timely subject.

 Beyond the headlines are the victims – those left injured in body and mind on the battlefields of the world.

 Here we see two parallel stories – that of Private Alfred Seddon, left blinded in a shell hole on the Western Front in 1917, and that of Combat Medical Technician Kate Mulligan, shot in Afghanistan in 2012.

 Both are receiving treatment in a hospital in Birmingham and across the decades they reach out to each other.

 Each carries their own guilt and it is only through recognising the courage of each other that they are able to reconcile themselves to their own sets of circumstances.

Ben Callon as Alfie Seddon and John Flitcroft as George

 Written by Jenny Stephens and directed by Steve Ball, Wounded is a thought-provoking drama. Its touches of humour and deep sadness only serve to help us empathise all the more with the two lead characters played with a good deal of enthusiasm by Ben Callon and Emma Rollason.

 At times the pace is a little slow – not least when the two characters first meet in the hospital ward. But as their tales unfold and their strange relationship develops we do respond to their personal crises – which serve as microcosmic mirrors reflecting the millions of people left battle-scarred by conflict.

 Setting the drama in the TA Centre ensures Wounded is performed in quite a concentrated space so that the action is taking place just feet in front of the audience. The setting does add an extra dimension but be warned, it is a bit chilly and the seats are not the most comfortable.

 At this time of year though when so many people are donning their poppies and reading Wilfred Owen, Wounded reminds us that in many ways war does not change. Its motives, landscapes and weapons may differ but at the centre is the human experience whether that be betrayal, pain and anger or forgiveness, love and redemption.

Until 10 November.

Diane Parkes 

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