Edinburgh’s festivals often predict the cultural trends we can expect in coming months. This year, I was struck by how many plays were looking at the impact of the war in Afghanistan on families in the UK. The two that I saw were powerful and moving and raised serious questions about how we deal with the after-effects of such a difficult and complicated conflict.
The Two Lives of Charlie F was one of the big hits of the festival. Featuring injured ex-service men and women in the cast, it played to packed houses in one of the largest fringe venues and won a long standing ovation on the night I attended. Strikingly, it featured one of the first aid briefings given to all new recruits before being deployed. A soldier’s body was covered in thick marker pen to illustrate the injuries they should expect to encounter. As the performer wiped the ink off his naked torso, the message was that human flesh is the real battlefield where wars are fought and lost.
The hidden impact of combat on the mental health of Veterans was portrayed in a smaller production called Glory Dazed, part of a new voices project run from Waterloo’s Old Vic Theatre. In a small claustrophobic venue, the issue of how military service affects families and relationships was explored.
As broadcasters assemble in Edinburgh at the end of the month for their annual Television Festival they may be reflecting about how best to respond to the military themes being played out in the Scottish capital city this summer.
PLMR is proud to work for Combat Stress, the charity that delivers dedicated treatment and support to ex-service men and women with conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression and anxiety disorders.