I find this a very difficult play to review. All plays have something which ties them to reality, however far they seem from it. But The Two Worlds of Charlie F is as close to reality theatre as you can possibly get; a story adapted from the real experiences of wounded, injured and sick service personnel by Owen Sheers, but performed by the people that lived through it in Bravo 22 Company.

Although these stories are fictionalised from real life experiences, there is still very little suspension of disbelief for the audience knowing the origins lay in the brave men and women you’re watching. This show follows Charlie F (Cassidy Little) and other characters’ journey from war to rehabilitation, mirroring the cast members’ journey. The Two Worlds of Charlie F is a theatre recovery project created by the Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust and funded by the Royal British Legion. It’s an unforgettably eye-opening experience to know that you’re watching so much more than a play.

Bravo 22 Company are extremely talented to have gone from little to no acting experience, to a play of this scale. And every cast member is wholly convincing, and don’t miss a note or a beat. They hold the audience in the palm of their hands, with the ability to make them cry one minute and laugh the next. Sheers’ script is respectful and well balanced; also incorporating dance, song and film into the production. Lily Phillip’s choreography is elegant and moving; there’s a stunning scene where the actresses dance with the men that use wheelchairs, seeming to act as their legs as well as expressing both the intimacy and yet distance between the couples during rehabilitation. Equally, Maurilla Simpson emotionally invests so deeply into her song which opens the show on an honest, liberating tone, which the show retains.

Stephen Rayne’s direction is flawless. The Two Worlds of Charlie F is everything a play should be and more. Although the scenes consider different journeys, the progression makes sense and we always return to Charlie F (Little is a charismatic, confident lead – ideal in his role). Simpson’s story as Simi Yeats about her family and why she joined the army is endearing, and captures the positivity and bravery present in all the characters, making them such a joy to watch.

At times the show is explosive, at times it’s heart breaking and at times it’s light hearted. Jason Carr’s composition is an excellent score to carry the audience through a roller coaster of emotions experienced in this truly moving play. Because it’s such a polished production in every respect there is something filmic about The Two Worlds of Charlie F, which captures its audience. Together Sheers and Rayne exemplify raw storytelling at its best; by creating an inspirational story from a very real place, Bravo 22 Company achieve something they should be proud of, and remind the audience why they should be proud of them. This is theatre which stays with you long after you leave.

***** – 5/5 stars

The Two Worlds of Charlie F played at the Pleasance Courtyard as a part of the Edinburgh Festival. It will return to the Theatre Royal Haymarket on 9 September for two performances.