Venue: RNCM
Where: Manchester

I don’t believe anyone, until now, has recounted the effects of the war in Afghanistan. Janine Atkin’s moving new drama The Enemy Within, from Lion’s Mouth Productions, does just that.

This gripping piece leaves a lasting effect, as the plot builds up to a twist in the tale which culminates in such a shocking conclusion, that you walk away with a dry mouth.

Laura Lindsay’s Zoe starts off as a giggly girl in love with Carl, a soldier. She marries him and they have a son, Ryan who, ironically likes playing with guns. Thanks to Karen Lauke’s evocative sound design, we hear Ryan playing soldiers, only to be followed by the noise of machine guns and bombs in Afghanistan.

Peter Carruthers gives a first rate performance as the bewildered soldier who has returned home suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome. He throws his soul into conveying flashbacks of Helmand Province.Fearfully he has  watched  his friends and innocent Afghans die. In a fine display of acting, Caruthers shakes, stares into space, drinks Vodka and throws unreasonable rages.

His other comfort, apart from the drink, is his soldier friend, Alex (Nicholas Garner). The two share comradely laughs - which resonate, as they contain a poignant quality as the humour is short lived, given the long lasting effects of war.

This one night performance is a tester before a regional tour in 2012. When it returns - go for it as this excellent play and the talented cast are going to be a big hit.

- Julia Taylor