It’s difficult to know where to begin with Cat Jones’s Glory Dazed as it continues its tour from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival via the Adelaide Fringe Festival before returning to the UK. Set within a pub in Doncaster, this four-hander looks at the affects of war upon ex-serviceman Ray (Samuel Edward-Cook) as he attempts to return to the normality of English life after serving in Afghanistan. So traumatic is Ray’s experience that returning to his (now ex-) wife Carla (Chloe Massey) and best friend Simon (Adam Foster) is nigh impossible as he drinks himself into violence and regret. Brutal, challenging and raising important questions over the mental stability of ex-service men, Jones’s Glory Dazed is a powerful play to digest.
The difficult in knowing how to look at Glory Dazed lies within the challenging subject matter and formidable performances from the cast. This isn’t the happy kitchen-sink drama that you can easily get lost within. Jones’s characters sharpen their knives and aim their throws with perfection, slicing you with scene after scene. If one moment we’re hearing of the disgusting treatment of Afghan civilians in the war, the next we’re cowering from the volcanic eruptions of Edward-Cook’s relentless Ray. This is gritty, pounding-against-your-head theatre and it won’t let you sit easy.
Glory Dazed is presented by Second Shot, the theatre and film company founded by Jones working with prisoners and ex-offenders to support their work. The play came from workshops and discussions with those serving their sentence on why the number of offenders from a ex-service background was high. The mental and psychological effect that the war has upon some of our servicemen and women is long-lasting, often leading them to violent outbursts when they’re restrained to everyday life again.
Edward-Cook leads the cast as the brutal Ray, his voice booming and his punches on the furniture increasing to the point that you can’t help but to feel threatened even as an audience member. Massey meanwhile presents a complicated character in Carla whose love for her ex-husband struggles with the violence he presents to her. There’s a particularly grounded quality in Massey’s acting that roots her character with more realism than the other cast members, or perhaps we just find ourselves understanding her more in her internal struggle. There’s some sound performances from both Foster as the landlord and friend of Ray, and the young barmaid Leanne played by Kristin Atherton.
Raising questions about the long-term suffering of those who return from war overseas, Glory Dazed certainly doesn’t make for a sympathetic story. There’s some challenging scenes and sharp one-liners comparing the war to a “fucking zombie game” and other poignant metaphors. Jones’s dialogue is razor-sharp and it’s aptly directed by Elle While making this a worthwhile, if difficult, production that should be seen and understood. War is no easy beast to tackle, but to represent the implications of it upon the human mind is even harder. Glory Dazed rises to the challenge and triumphs.
Glory Dazed is playing at the Adelaide Fringe Festival at the Holden Street Theatre until 17 March. For more information and tickets see the Adelaide Fringe website.