Review of Missing in Action

Written by award-winning writer, Brendan Murray and directed by Mary Swan, this moving play explored the effects, both on the sufferers and their families, of post traumatic stress disorder suffered by ex-servicemen.

It follows the fate of teenage friends, Christopher and Darren (played with just the right balance of humour and pathos by Zoot Lynam and Paul Valentine) from the day they sign on for the army, through training and, all-too-soon, to deployment in Afghanistan. Christopher dies in action and Darren, haunted by the atrocities he witnessed and by a sense of guilt that he was in the sick-bay and not in action with his friend, suffers a breakdown leading to his discharge. Unable to respond to his partner Vicky and their baby, and refusing to seek help, he leaves home and wanders the streets.

The play is held together by the constant presence of Spider, a shuffling, cider-drinking vagrant. Superbly played by Paul Huntley-Thomas, he links the action with a series of war poems.

The central character is Christopher’s mother, Linda, beautifully portrayed by Ashley Christmas in a perfectly judged, heart-wrenching performance. She was ably supported by Louisa Quinn as Darren’s helpless and bewildered partner. The cast was completed by ensemble members Stuart Dimond and James Laurence Hunter.

This is a powerful piece, based on real life experiences, which hopefully will help to convince doubters that PTSD is a genuine condition. It is set initially for a tour of fifteen venues but will surely go further.

From the Basingstoke Gazette 8/10/12