The unflinching true stories of injured servicemen and women is told in a powerful and moving drama coming to the Waterside on Thursday.
The Two Worlds of Charlie F. looks at injury before, during and after battle. It is a soldier’s view of service, injury and recovery, writes Heather Jan Brunt.
Moving from the war in Afghanistan, through the dream world of morphine-induced hallucinations, to the physio rooms of Headley Court, the play explores the consequences of injury, both physical and psychological, and it effects on others as the soldiers fight to win the new battle they face for survival at home.
The play is a very personal and very moving look at the effects of war on individual combatants, but it also has a huge amount of humour and humanity.
The cast includes serving and veteran servicemen and women as well as professional actors. The title role of Marine Charlie Fowler is played by Marine Cassidy Little, who was born in Canada and studied performance art in America where he indulged his special interest in dance.
With family in the UK, Cassidy moved to England to try his hand at stand-up comedy, before joining 42 Commando in the British Royal Marines as the result of a bet.
It was while serving on his second tour of Afghanistan that he lost a leg in an improvised explosive device blast.
Reflecting on this life-changing event Cassidy said: “I woke up and asked if the leg was still there. And the guy said, ‘no, sorry it’s gone, taken clean off.’ And so I said, ‘there goes my dancing days.’”
Cassidy is now permanantly resident in England. He is married to Laura and they live in Lincolnshire, and during 2012 Cassidy was delighted to be asked to carry the Olympic Flame as the relay passed through Peterborough.
After meeting director Stephen Rayne and writer Owen Sheers he was offered the lead role of the eponymous Charlie in the first highly successful UK tour of The Two Worlds of Charlie F. in 2012, and now returns again to the role for this second tour.
The play was the idea of executive producer Alice Driver who wanted to provide the first theatre recovery project and unique work placement for serving wounded, injured and sick military personnel within a theatre company. This was the first time the Ministry of Defence allowed a theatre such access.
Cassidy, who has recently become a naturalised British Citizen, has subsequently appeared in short films and in a guest lead role in the BBC Doctors series.