BWW Reviews: THE TWO WORLDS OF CHARLIE F is Moving, But Over Produced
When I go to the theatre, I want my attention to be gripped so that I can escape into someone else's story for an hour or two. Unfortunately, The Two Worlds of Charlie F just didn't manage to hold my attention throughout the performance.
At times, the show is shocking, moving, and staged brilliantly by director Stephen Rayne. At other times, musical numbers by Jason Carr, choreographed poorly by Lily Phillips, caused my mind to drift, while I waited for the next brilliant moment to appear. Removing these "production" elements and scaling back the show to just the stories and monlogues of the veterans, would in my opinion, be a great improvement.
That's not to say, however, that this undertaking isn't a brave choice for the off-Mirvish season. I don't regret seeing this show, as the monolgues by the veterans in the cast are extremely moving and eye opening. I can't possibly imagine what these brave soldiers actually went through while serving their country, but the stories they told definitely made the concept of war very real for me.
The show is the braichild of Alice Driver, who created this program to help the healing process and bring together the two world of theatre and the military. When I met Alice back at the Mirvish Season Announcement in September, she was very clear that this wasn't originally billed as "theatre-therapy," but that through her own eyes she had seen the effect that the process of creating this show had on the participants.
If I had to give you the best reason to see The Two Worlds of Charlie F, that reason would be to see the incredibly charismatic and surprisingly charming performance by Marine Cassidy Little. Little, a Newfoundland native, served as a Royal Marine with the 42nd Commando, RM, Bickleigh Barracks. If you have the chance to meet Little (as I did back in September), he'll tell you he joined the Marines on a bet with his friends. Little lost one of his legs to an IED in Afghanastan in 2011, and uses a prosthetic leg for the scenes set before his injuries. He gives the standout performance in this production, and his brand of dry humor makes the slightly uncomfortable audience laugh when they may feel it inappropriate to do so.
Special mention must be made to sound designer Colin Pink, who's sound effects make you jump in your seat from shock - and bring you even closer to the battlefield.
While maybe not for the faint of heart, or easily disturbed - this moving production is worth seeing if you can make it down to the Princess of Wales Theatre before March 9th. Hopefully, this production can have a life beyond it's current incarnation.
Photo: The Company of the Two Worlds of Charlie F. By Cylla von Tiedemann.