Battle Cry

Matt Fox
Our Space Theatre Royal Plymouth
The Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth

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Steve Cowley Credit: Andrew Cawley

Adam always wanted to experience the world: to see other things and not as a ‘gap year moron’—and the Army granted his wishes, but not quite as he may have wanted.

There was indeed global travel and things to see and experience, but matching body parts of bomb blast victims—friend and foe—in far-flung places and terrorist watch in busy marketplaces was not quite what the young Adam envisaged. And then there is the camaraderie, but rampant homophobic culture of the military, the incessant gunfire and people doing stupid stuff and quick, life-changing decisions to make. Too much for even the best of us, and too much for Adam.

Steve Cowley’s Adam’s pain is palpable and unrelieved. From the very start of Matt Fox’s intense monologue, based on the true story of a former soldier, Cowley is clearly anguished, cast adrift from a world in which he was trained to do what he was told and when to do it. Lethally institutionalised, Adam has lost everything: his family, his love, his home, his life, and is left lonely with dreadful memories which even Tesco’s cheapest booze can’t drown.

The Army has broken then discharged him, the civvi doctors say there is no more they can do until he ‘sorts’ himself out, but the never-ending fatal cycle of drink-sleep-hangover is all he can manage. PTSD and the heavy toll of war is a devastating struggle channelled compellingly by Cowley and discussed in a post-show talk after each performance.

Fox packs a great deal into an intense 60 minutes of gut-wrenching, emotional outpouring from a broken man—uncomfortable, believable and clearly recognisable to an audience featuring many serving or former military personnel.

Challenging and thought-provoking.

Reviewer: Karen Bussell

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