“We want empathy not sympathy, I love my job”. This was a statement said by a major during a question and answer session after the play ‘Wired’ was shown as part of Army@TheFringe. When you think about it, it’s a very brave step on the part of the army to open its doors to the Arts, Comedy, Theatre crowd. More and more though, the army has realised the need for media involvement, especially social media involvement.
In ‘Strike’ a Drama series based on the novel by Robert Galbraith. Cormoran Strike, an injured war veteran turned PI, investigates. In one scene Robin Ellacott played by Holliday Grainger tells her boyfriend that her new boss, the detective Cormoran Strike, lost part of his leg while he was fighting in Iraq. Her boyfriend’s reply is off hand and scathing, as if Cormoran deserved the injury fighting in a war that no one supported. Of course he’s just jealous, but many people share similar thoughts.
‘Wired’ is about a young girl joining the army, getting trained up and being sent to Afghanistan, where during one posting, while she is checking people and is suspicious of someone wearing a burqa, she reacts too late and her best friend is killed by a bomb. She subsequently goes into meltdown suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and is – all over again – torn apart by the memory of her father’s suicide when she was a young girl. The award winning playwright Lesley Wilson has a background in mental health and brilliantly describes the effects of a soldier being pumped with adrenaline while on patrol in a war zone. The director Jordon Blackwood stages ‘Wired’ as individual monologues with physical inter-action. The young soldier Joanna, played by Jasmine Main is excellent and there’s great support particularly from Una McDade who carries the main narrative of the play.
In the end Joanna recovers and chooses to go back to her army job. Like the major said, there is empathy and support within the army for all who choose to join – and many are from backgrounds that ironically make them vulnerable.
Whatever your views on war – this is a powerful play.