Reviewed by Jo Hardy
Pink Mist written by Owen Sheers and presented by Bristol Old Vic at home runs for 1 hour 42 minutes with a short intermission, the show does have some violence, strong language and distressing themes so is only suitable viewing for those over twelve years of age.
The show was inspired by interviews with servicemen who had returned from duty in Afghanistan. There are only six cast members – Erin Doherty, Phil Dunster, Rebecca Hamilton, Peter Edwards, Zara Ramm and Alex Stedman, plus a lady at the side of the stage signing for the deaf. The recording is from an original performance in July 2015 so there is a live audience.
This a very gritty show. There is very little in the way of props, costumes and scenery. It’s all about the sound, the acting and the narrative. The story centres on three male characters. They had been friends at school and when we first meet them they are just eighteen. So far their lives had been very ordinary. They all had very ordinary jobs and were just ambling along in life looking for a purpose. It was Arthur who was drawn to the army recruitment advertisement. He was full of enthusiasm and planted the seeds with his friends Taff and Hads. This was their chance of a better life, to become strong men with a purpose,to travel, to be better providers for the family and to do something different. l could feel the excitement and enthusiasm building.
They all signed up and started the training at Catterick camp. Within weeks they were on their way to Afghanistan.
This is not light entertainment. There are dramatic scenes of war time and through clever writing and brilliant acting you do get a feeling of the horror of war. In my ignorance I thought the title “Pink Mist” was a strange title for a war based story, I had never heard this term before. It was vividly described in one scene and now I can fully understand why that was given as the title and the meaning of “Pink Mist” will forever stick with me. The time spent in Afghanistan had very different effects on each of them and their relationships, needless to say things would never be the same.
As I mentioned earlier there is a lot of dialogue in this show. I am full of admiration for all the actors. They never once stumbled over the words and there enunciation was so clear I heard and understood ever one of them, very important in a show of this type.
I must be honest and say this is not the type of show I would choose but I am so pleased I did. Yes, some of it was difficult to watch but we shouldn’t shy away from these things. This is real. It is what has and does happen in wars.
Access to this show is available through bristololdvic.org.uk they have a very interesting pricing structure:
Open concession £6. If you don’t have much extra money at the moment.
Standard £10. If you can afford a little extra to support the industry.
Pay it forward. £16. To help subsidise the concession tickets.
A school license £150. To watch in a classroom or distribute to students at home.