Jenny Stephens’ cogent new script explores the dilemmas of wartime medics in both the past and latter-day. Beginning in the midst of enemy fire, combat medical technician, Kate Mulligan and colleague, Jacko are struck down and sent to a Birmingham hospital. In a parallel scene Private Alfie Seddon has returned from the heat of battle to the relative safety of the very same ward.
Behind Wounded lies a fabulous concept. A first world war veteran and a soldier suffering as a result of the current Afghanistan conflict begin to hear things; sounds from outside of their nurses’ surveillance. Whether it’s the shock, or a ghost of times gone by, Kate begins to converse with Alfie. The confused and agitated soldiers relive their experiences, helping each other to understand their guilt and recover from their trauma.
Performed in the authentic Territorial Army Field Hospital in Kings Heath this could be a truly hard-hitting piece on wartime care, however the show lacked the integrity necessary to truly make an impression.
The concept was let down somewhat by the script, which was, at times, highly amusing, yet too often cheesy and laced with unnecessary murmurs of dialect, interrupting otherwise brilliant scenes. The transition between the two timeframes was often clunky, however the dialogue between the two main characters became increasingly natural as the story progressed.
Scenes were cleverly separated using video and physical theatre, where silent soldiers prowled the stage in slow motion, using existing props to rearrange the innovative set. It was necessary to employ your imagination to envisage upturned hospital beds as the trenches of WWI. However, the cast did a spectacular job of generating the burdened and panicked atmosphere, which carried the scene along. The sound of explosions and gunfire made the scene all the more realistic and appeared to jump-start a good half of the audience on the first blast. It may be that the brilliance of this particular scene demonstrated the lack of verve throughout other aspects of the performance.
Whilst it was not an awe-inspiring drama, Wounded was a pleasant enough watch. Monologues from both Emma Rollason (Kate) and Ben Callon (Alfie) were well directed and performed; giving a depth to the characters that was otherwise lacking. Attention must also be drawn to a commendable performance from Maisie Turpie as Private Seddon’s wife, Rosie and as Nurse, Gertie Robinson.
The performance was near perfect in length, at just over an hour long; and all said, it did convey a sincere message. When reflecting upon the reality of war,
Wounded befits a more poignant piece. With some tweaking to create fluidity within dialogue, the play could, in time, become the hard-hitting production it is emulating.
- Hannah Sweetnam