Writer: Gareth Farr
Director: Nick Bagnall
Reviewer: Deborah Klayman
The men in Carl Jackson’s world offer little in the way of rôle models: the drug-dealing Appletons, his uninspiring uncle Charles, and his father who has retreated into a childlike world since the death of his Carl’s mother. The bright lights of Blackpool are of little solace, masking the poverty and despair of the locals, so when an opportunity to escape is offered, Carl jumps at the chance to forge a different path.
This powerful play examines the way the army recruits disenfranchised young men, promising a wage, education, and a chance to see the world. For those with an unstable family and few opportunities in their communities this can seem a dream come true, and Carl initially flourishes, finding the direction and discipline he craves while making firm friends. However, when training is over and they are deployed to Afghanistan reality comes crashing in, and Carl’s mind starts to unravel under the weight of horrors he has seen and perpetrated.
Dan Parr’s portrayal of Carl is a genuine tour de force, marrying sensitivity and integrity with staggering physical stamina. The play’s action has been transferred from main stage to theRoundabout at Summerhall – a circus space that perfectly suits the idea of the Pleasure Beach – with Ashley Martin-Davis’ clever design and Nick Bagnall’s thoughtful direction reworked for this new setting.Writer Gareth Farr is a wordsmith, and the text he gives Carl has the urgency and lyrical quality of a spoken word poet.Parr spends much of the play running, attached to the set by bungee cord which he strains against as he tried to outrun his demons. As he disintegrates so too does his ability to rhyme, dream and cope with life, and you are left wondering who will help him pick up the pieces. Hard-hitting, current and engaging theatre that does not pull its punches.
Runs until 24thAug