Pink Mist at Bush Theatre
“Pink mist” is an army slang term referring to the fine spray of blood that critically wounded soldiers often leave behind: “A fine spray of pink, a delicate mist, as if some genie has granted a wish. There, and then not.” Owen Sheer’s dramatic poem Pink Mist tells the timeless tale of three young men and their experience with war, and the women who have to pick up the pieces when they return.
Based on interviews with returning soldiers, the action unfolds on an almost empty set – only a lone wheelchair and a wooden recliner serve as props – with a minimal backdrop; it draws all attention to the actors and it’s an excellent technique. With only some scattered sound effects, a few choice tracks and a commanding cast, directors John Retallack and George Mann have managed to perfectly capture both Bristol and Afghanistan. Leading the performance is Arthur (Phil Dunster) who enlists, along with best mates Taff (Peter Edwards) and Hads (Alex Stedman). Barely out of their teens, the Bristol born boys quickly find out how different the real thing is to their playground war games. None return from Afghanistan whole; each must field their own demons.
Lyrical, profound and unflinching in its portrayal of the horrors of war, the play begins rather hauntingly with what is almost a children’s rhyme and, from there on, is completely engrossing. The cast is excellent – moving together seamlessly as a dance troop to tell their story. The lads in particular excel, managing to perfectly capture roguish humour, the brave faces, the blind desperation, transformations that are heart-wrenching to watch and feel overwhelmingly real – which is precisely what makes this play so moving. None of the stories seem overdramatic, there is nothing far-fetched here, only thoughtful musing that, rightly, left few eyes dry.
Pink Mist is on at Bush Theatre from 21st January until 13th February 2016, for further information or to book visit here.