This is the most thought-provoking and gripping drama ever seen at East Riding Theatre, because it deals with real, contemporary problems which affect too many people in our society but is not generally recognised as a major problem.
On the night I went to see 'Glory Dazed', there was an audience Q&A with the cast; Paul Matson of Hull4Heroes; Dereck Hardman who has set up the Armed Forces and Veterans' Breakfast Clubs and Jon Hilton of Pulse Rate Group, an ex-serviceman who was on hand to talk about his experiences during and after leaving the forces.
Members of the armed forces are trained to be an elite 'band of brothers', experiencing good and bad times but always watching each other's backs. Upon discharge, despite the fact that many will have a skill which can be used in civilian life, the safety and camaraderie of the 'tribe' is no more, with even families unable to understand the character-changing life events of service life. This can cause friction between couples and in the workplace leading to divorce and joblessness and, with untreated (and often undiagnosed) mental health issues, worse.
In 'Glory Dazed', Ray, (Samuel Edward-Cook) is an ex-squaddie, who has served in Afghanistan. It's well after closing time, but Ray bangs on the door of his local pub, which is run by his old mate Simon (Adam Foster) and is where his ex-wife Carla (Annabel York) works. Young barmaid, Leanne (Evie Guttridge) is also there, clearing up before she walks home after her shift. Carla doesn't want to see Ray; as the drama unfolds we find out why and experience the heart-rending recriminations which keep us glued to our seats.
Th play was written by Cat Jones in 2011; it won the BBC Alfred Bradley Award for Radio Drama and was adapted for stage and taken to the Edinburgh Fringe where it won the Holden Street Theatre Award. It also won the Critics Choice Award in Adelaide when it played there in 2013. The original production was developed in collaboration with ex-soldiers serving prison sentences in HMP and YOI Doncaster by Second Shot Productions which exists to give serving prisoners and ex-offenders opportunities within the creative industries.
This ERT production is in association with Hull-based charity, Hull4Heroes which provides support for veterans, helping them to transition back into to civilian life and regular employment as seamlessly as possible. The charity is building a Veterans' Village in Priory Road/Coronation Road with the support of many local and dedicated volunteers and both East Riding County and Hull City Councils to create a legacy to be proud of. To find out more about the project visit https://veteransvillage.co.uk/the-project/
Speaking after the play, Samuel Edward-Cook, probably best-known for his role in 'Peaky Blinders', encouraged the audience to spread the word about 'Glory Dazed', about mental health, especially Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and how to help support the people who have been a member of the Armed Forces who have to reintegrate into a society which is probably very different to the society when they enrolled. Indeed, for many ex-servicemen, especially those who enrolled at a young age, service life will be all they know.
Unfortunately, 'Glory Dazed' only plays until Saturday, but there is a 2.30pm matinee also on Saturday as well as the 7.30pm showings. It really is only suitable for 15+ as there is some swearing and violence.
Tickets are available from www.eastridingtheatre.co.uk or 01482 874050