The Two Worlds of Charlie F at the Richmond Theatre
It’s hard to credit The Two Worlds of Charlie F as a play in the usual, dramatic show-business sense, mainly because it has quite a different purpose behind its production than purely to amuse and divert. This means that its merits will differ to those normally sought for, and its simplistic structure and design, somewhat reminiscent of a school play, is entirely to its advantage.
The show plays out the military experiences of a group of wounded, injured or sick WIS Service personnel, demonstrating the conflict between the two worlds of military service and home life, and the ongoing struggle of trying to cope with these two worlds at once. Everyone hears about the injured on the news; everyone imagines what it must be like, pitying their televised forms. But this show is a rare insight into the real thoughts, feelings and daily struggles of the men and women who have been to war, and known pain and death.
As reflected in the simple structure and sterile set design, this show is raw. The company is made up of actual WIS Service personnel, the injuries of whom you will see and hear about in the chilling opening scene. But the show is far from over the top or melodramatic. It is a pared down, frank account of war and injury, with the underlying premise that “humour is the best defence” characterising much of the show’s writing.
While The Two Worlds of Charlie F is unlike anything you will have seen staged before, it is nonetheless a deeply affecting and influential piece of theatre. Its genre is hard to define – a documentary would be close, with reconstructed scenes from the servicemen’s lives and lecture style addresses to the audience. Snippets of song and choreography are a thoughtful addition but oddly placed and distracting from the real interest of the show. Corporal Charlie Fowler, played by Marine Cassidy Little, supplies the main narration, which is warming, familiar and enormously endearing.
Once the end of the show is reached, a touching and strong picture of the realities of war, the army, friendship and love is left behind. The sincerity of the production is concluded in Charlie’s final speech, which outlines the truth of the matter; the truth being that we only live in one world really, and adaptation is necessary to survive.
The Two Worlds of Charlie F is at Richmond Theatre until 22nd March 2014. For further information or to book visit the show’s website here.
Watch the trailer for The Two Worlds of Charlie F here: