Writer: Lesley Wilson
Director: Jordan Blackwood
Reviewer: Tom Ralph
Plays about PTSD are hardly a rarity, even if the chances of finding one at an army run venue might seem low. However, it’s not just the choice of venue that makes Wired stand out, it’s the approach it takes and the compelling central character that lift it above other plays on the same theme.
The play opens with Joanna debating what to do post-school. As she contemplates the debts and uncertainty that a degree can offer, her mother and an unnamed soldier provide conflicting advice on whether she would be better off joining the army.
The way the benefits of the army are sold, it could almost feel like a recruitment advert, but at the same time, the production is deliberately challenging stereotyped assumptions, and Joanna’s story is all the more interesting because her background, and reasons for enlisting, are not what you might expect.
The careful blending of information about training and deployment with Joanna’s first-hand experience, provide a context at odds with the more common presentation of soldiers sent unprepared into dangerous situations. As a result, the post-traumatic stress that follows an incident, recounted in almost real-time, is more harrowing than it might otherwise have been, and raises more subtle issues about preparing soldiers for war.
Joanna’s response to the four weeks leave that follows the incident is another point where the play moves into areas often left unexplored, and the conclusions that can be drawn are perhaps deliberately ambiguous, opening it up for discussion rather than presenting a definite viewpoint.
Jasmine Main as Joanna captures the optimism, mental torment and resoluteness of the character throughout, making her someone you empathise with, and making this a play where the character shares centre stage with the issue, rather than simply being the vehicle through which it’s presented.
Runs until 26 August 2017 | Image: Contributed