Glory Dazed

Adelaide Fringe. Holden Street Theatres. 1 Mar 2013

Glory Dazed is a play that makes a straightforward but overtly disturbing observation: we pay more attention to, and take better care of, returned soldiers who suffer obvious physical injuries (missing limbs etc) than we do of those who suffer psychological distress.  Why is that?

The action centres on Ray who is a returned Gulf War veteran and who is clearly traumatised.  His marriage to Carla has fallen apart, and when he visits a bar owned by his best friend Simon, he discovers that she is now in a relationship with Simon.  Furthermore she doesn’t make it easy for him to see his children. Things seem like they couldn’t get much worse, but of course they do.

The play is violent.  Ray is violent.  He is loud and aggressive, and becomes vicious as he is forced to deal with his problems.  He does have a sensitive side but we rarely see it.  Samuel Edward Cook plays Ray well enough, but there is something missing.  Take away the abrupt loudness, the shouting and the violent handling of furniture, and there isn’t much left that convinces us that Ray is totally intimidating.  And he should be, otherwise the reactions he is supposed to elicit from his wife Carla (played by Chloe Massey) and especially Simon (Adam Foster) just don’t make sense.  Director Elle While just doesn’t quite manage to get what she needs from her male actors, particularly Foster.  On the other hand Massey and Kristin Atherton, who plays Leanne the hired help in the bar, give tight and well balanced performances.

The set is quite elaborate for a Fringe production – a fully rigged out bar, a poker machine, operational doors etc.  The whole thing might have worked better if there was less reliance on realism and more on the cast using their obvious skills to extract the pathos from the characters.

Kym Clayton

When: 2 to 17 Mar
Where: Holden Street Theatres